The Los Angeles Clippers have put themselves in a tough spot. They tanked the final two games of the season to face the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs, and are now 0-2 after losing back-to-back games at home.
Tyronn Lue's team needs to make plenty of adjustments, especially in the defensive end. They haven't been able to make Luka Doncic uncomfortable, refusing to double-team him and just sending Pat Beverley at him.
Then again, the Clippers seem unbothered. They know that there's still plenty of basketball to be played, and Kawhi Leonard has confidence in their ability to start playing the way they're used to play:
“It’s not magic,” Leonard told ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk. “We got to come out and play basketball. Get stops. That is the name of the game right now. They’re shooting too great in the first two games, and we have to help each other. Too many straight-line drives, dunks, layups. We got to hang our hat on the defensive end.”
“Just making sure that we’re staying even keeled, you know what I mean? It’s playoff basketball, you just gotta figure it out. You gotta figure it out. Just gotta stay focused and make sure that we keep an eye on the prize," he concluded.
Leonard was spectacular last night with 41 points on 14/21 shooting but he only had 9 points in the second half after a 32-point explosion in the first 24 minutes.
That's becoming a bit of a worrying trend for the Clippers. Leonard needs to step up when it matters the most. He's one of the best two-way players in NBA history and by far the best player on this team.
The Clippers will now have to win 4 of the next 5 games - three of them on the road - and that will be an uphill battle unless they start playing some defense.