The Los Angeles Clippers find themselves in a familiar position against the Phoenix Suns. For the third time this postseason, they trail their opponent 2-0 after two games. They overcame the Dallas Mavericks in seven games in the first round, and then, in the second, beat the Utah Jazz four times in a row to end that series in six games. Now, with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line, they’ll have to do it again in order to overcome the Suns.
Despite the deficit, the Clippers haven’t come close to giving up. In fact, they feel as good as ever down 2-0. “With this team if anything we are more confident,” Paul George told reporters after Game 2. “If I know this team correctly, the fight we have going into Game 3 and the fight that we have to believe that we will change this series, that is who we are”
The Clippers may feel good about themselves after two games, but the circumstances at this point are very different than they were in their first two series. Most notably, Kawhi Leonard was still healthy when they fell down 2-0 to the Mavericks and Jazz. He may have gotten hurt at the end of Game 4 against Utah, but he was at least there to help them tie the series at 2-2 before suffering a knee injury that still has him out. Now, it’s unclear when or if he will return.
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On the other side of the equation, the Suns are expected to get Chris Paul back from the league’s health and safety protocols soon, perhaps as early as Game 3. The Clippers played the Suns close in Games 1 and 2, but that was without Paul. If he returns and Leonard doesn’t, beating the Suns four times out of five would likely be a tall order.
But pundits said as much about the Jazz and Mavericks. Look what happened. The Clippers have overcome the odds before, and if George is to be believed, the entire team believes it can do so again.