The final conference semifinal will kick off on Tuesday night as the Los Angeles Clippers will go on the road to face the top-seeded Utah Jazz.
Utah has opened as a slight favorite to take the series at -130 odds on WynnBET, and the Jazz are four-point favorites in Game 1. Vegas has the Jazz and Clippers at second and third on the odds list to win the NBA title, which essentially means that oddsmakers believe whoever wins this series will be heading to the NBA Finals.
Kawhi Leonard and Donovan Mitchell are the two leading scorers for the Clippers and Jazz, and WynnBET sees them going point-for-point in Game 1. Mitchell has a player prop projection of 28.5 points in Game 1, but the over (+100) is the underdog to the under (-120). Leonard, who’s player prop is set for 27.5 points, is also favored to go under (-116) that projection with the over set at -104 odds.
Both players have had some big moments this postseason, but who will score more when they face off head-to-head?
My money is going to be on Leonard on this one, as the Clippers superstar is having a postseason for the ages in terms of efficient scoring.
He’s the first player since Shaquille O’Neal to shoot 60.0 percent or better in a playoff series and average over 30.0 points per game, and while Mitchell is a great scorer, he hasn’t come close to those numbers.
Mitchell is averaging 28.5 points per game this postseason, and he did drop 30 in back-to-back games to close out the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. The Jazz are undefeated since Mitchell returned to the lineup in Game 2 after dealing with an ankle injury, but there are a few factors working against him in this head-to-head.
First off, Mitchell (29.9 minutes per game) has played nearly 11 minutes less than Leonard (40.7 minutes per game) per game this postseason.
While Mitchell has still taken more shots per game, he’s shot 45.0 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from 3. Those are solid numbers, but Leonard’s efficiency still outpaces Mitchell.
Lastly, Leonard has actually been better on the road this postseason, as he’s averaging 36.7 points per game in three road games (all wins).
Mitchell still could have a big game, but the odds suggest he’s more likely to score under 28 points while Leonard is closer to a pick’em. Until Kawhi cools off from his all-time shooting pace, I’m backing him to win this scoring matchup.