The LA Clippers once again head into a Game 3 in the 2021 NBA Playoffs down 2-0 in a series. There’s two ways of looking at it: Either it’s less concerning because the team has already gone through this before and come out the other side, or it’s more concerning because they keep digging a hole for themselves and eventually won’t be able to climb back out of it.
The good news is the Clippers have looked solid thus far through two games against the Utah Jazz, and could have taken either or both of the first two games in Salt Lake City. The bad news is they didn’t. Saturday’s Game 3 is another vital game in the Clippers’ entire season, and they are essentially now back in must-win territory.
When: Saturday, June 12 at 5:30 p.m. PT
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
How to watch/listen: ABC
Opposing perspective: SLC Dunk
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac
Jazz: Jordan Clarkson, Royce O’Neale, Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic, Rudy Gobert
Clippers: Serge Ibaka (lower back) — OUT
Jazz: Mike Conley Jr. (right hamstring strain) — QUESTIONABLE
The Clippers alternated cold spells with hot patches in their 117-111 loss on Thursday in Game 2. They stuck with a Jazz team that looked set to take flight at any moment, came back from double-digit deficits several times, and took a late lead to give hope they could knot up the series at 1-1. Then they completely lost their shooting touch in the key moments and eventually lost the game.
One good thing is that while Donovan Mitchell went off in the first half of Game 2, the Clippers were able to neutralize him in the second half. Gone are the days in the NBA where you can let one star on the opposing team get his points, because players routinely score 40+, 50+, even more points and can win games nearly singlehandedly. However, if Mitchell is not too banged up from the end of Game 2, when he appeared to aggravate an injury, there’s also the possibility that Mike Conley Jr. will suit up for the first time this series, and his point guard abilities could help get the Jazz offense moving even better during sticky patches in games.
But ultimately this is the time when the Clippers stars need to get back on their perch and take over games themselves. Paul George has been grinding hard for points in the first two games, but his fouling and turnovers are an issue. Kawhi Leonard seems to be gassed to start this series, but he’s the fulcrum of the Clippers, and they’ll go as far as he takes them, ultimately. Will that include a win in Game 3? This is going to be another can’t-miss game, obviously.