2021 Playoffs: West Semifinal | Jazz (1) vs. Clippers (4)

Clippers facing another 2-0 deficit as series shifts to Los Angeles

The Clippers became one of the rare teams to recover from a 2-0 hole in their last series against the Mavericks. Can they do it again?

Associated Press

Paul George and the Clippers must fight back from another daunting deficit, down 2-0 to the Jazz.

The Los Angeles Clippers find themselves in familiar territory — down 2-0 in their second straight playoff series and seeing one player outplay their two superstars.

While the Clippers proved they could work their way out of a deep hole before, the challenges are steeper as they prepare to face the Utah Jazz on Saturday as the scene shifts to Staples Center for Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal series.

The downtown Los Angeles court, which has been the franchise’s home since 1999, has not given them any advantages when it comes to the postseason. They have lost nine of their last 11 home playoff games. Last Sunday’s 126-111 victory over Dallas in Game 7 snapped a eight-game home playoff losing streak.

Paul George said after Thursday night’s 117-111 loss that they are approaching this two-game deficit the same way they approached being down to Dallas.

“We still feel we have a lot of possessions that we can clean up and a lot of possessions that are hurting us that’s our fault,” he said. “It’s a lot of uphill, but we’re optimistic that we can get this under control and try to tie this series up.”

When the Clippers rallied to beat the Mavericks, it marked only the fifth time in 32 instances that a team lost the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home and ended up winning it.

Their odds of coming back are even steeper this time. Teams that win the first two games in a best-of-seven at home go on to win the series 93.8% of the time (257 out of 274). That includes three first-round series this year.

“I think our confidence level is pretty high. Nothing is really changed for us. We are still sticking to the same script and trying to do what we do,” Utah guard Jordan Clarkson said.

If the Clippers are going to get back into the series, their 3-point shooting needs to improve. They are shooting 37.5% from beyond the arc in the playoffs after making a franchise record 41.1% during the regular season.

Defensively, the switch to a zone helped LA erase a 21-point, second-half deficit, but coach Tyronn Lue wants to see his team do better when playing one-on-one. Utah guard Donovan Mitchell has scored at least 37 points in the two games, but Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles have hit big perimeter shots when called upon.

“They put it down on the floor, attacking, and now we have to help and swing for three. We have to do a better job with our individual defense taking the challenge,” Lue said. “We know they thrive on driving kicks he can which check closing out to their other guys and keeping them under control.”