Down 0-2 after losing the first two games at home, these three Los Angeles Clippers must step up as the series moves to Dallas.
The Los Angeles Clippers have high expectations, to the point rest for their top two players during the regular season takes priority with an eye on the playoffs. So Tuesday night’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks, and being down 0-2 in their first round series with back-to-back losses at home, is not part of the plan.
As expected, the company line was reflected by Paul George when he was asked about the Clippers’ concern level down 0-2.
“There is none,” George said when asked what the team’s level of concern is after losing the first two games at home. “It’s a competition. We got to rise to the occasion. The fact of the matter is if we don’t, we’re done for. There is no level of concern.
“We just got to play our game, we got to play through this. We got to incorporate our defense. Luka is going to get his touches. We just got to do a better job defensively of quieting everyone else.”
Defense has been the primary issue against Dallas thus far. On Tuesday night, the Mavericks shot 58.5 percent from the floor and 52.9 percent (18-for-34) from 3-point range. By comparison, the Clippers shot 53.6 percent from the floor and 39.4 percent (13-for-33) from beyond the arc. In the first two games, Los Angeles is 24-for-73 from 3-point range (32.8 percent)
As the series now shifts to Dallas, and the statistical probabilities favor them losing the series, these three Clippers must step up.
3. Marcus Morris
Over the first two games against the Mavericks, Morris has essentially equaled his regular-season per-game scoring average (13 points) with four total rebounds on a combined 5-for-17 shooting (2-for-11 from beyond the arc, including 0-for-6 in Game 1). He fouled out on Tuesday night, in 24 minutes of action.
Morris won’t be any help on the defensive end. But if he is going to continue to play as much as he has so far against Dallas (28 minutes per game), and it’s safe to say Tyronn Lue doesn’t have any great alternatives, the Clippers at least need better offensive efficiency from him.