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Utah Jazz vs. LA Clippers Game 4 preview: Intensity, spacing and bench help — what to watch for

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard passes the ball as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert defends in Game 3 of their playoff series.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, right, passes the ball as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert defends during the second half of Game 3 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Los Angeles.
Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press

The Utah Jazz take on the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals on Monday night.

The Jazz lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1, after losing Game 3 on Saturday. There were a lot of things that went wrong for the Jazz in that game, but here are three things the Jazz need to make a priority on Monday.

Intensity

The Jazz can’t expect to win games in the playoffs if they don’t treat them like playoff games. The stakes are higher, the level of competition is higher and the team that wants it more is often the team that comes out on top.

This requires raising their effort, level of aggressiveness, and focusing on all the small details in order to be the team that dictates the tone of the game. The Jazz admitted to not raising the intensity level to where it needed to be in Game 3, and a repeat performance would be incredibly worrisome.

Spacing

The main thing the Jazz came away from their Sunday film session talking about was spacing, how important it is on offense and how it needs to be better in Game 4.

The Jazz need to make sure that when someone is penetrating the paint, they have shooters that are properly spaced around the arc and in the corners. They need to make sure they are making passing lanes more difficult with odd spacing or clogging the lane by not giving a ballhandler room to create for himself or others.

Sometimes this could be the difference between feet or even inches, but in the playoffs those differences matter.

Bench help

In Game 1 of this series, Derrick Favors was huge on the defensive end and in grabbing rebounds. Since then, the Jazz have had almost no bench help, especially on the offensive end outside of Jordan Clarkson.

With Mike Conley set to miss a fourth straight game (right hamstring strain) and Donovan Mitchell playing through pain, the Jazz need all the help they can get and negative performances from Favors and Georges Niang just aren’t going to cut it against the Clippers.

Game 4 between the Jazz and Clippers at Staples Center tips off at 8 p.m. MDT on TNT.