The Jazz, riding on impressive performances from Donovan Mitchell, have won six straight playoff matches and are on the cusp of a commanding 3-0 lead in the series. However, there are quite a few reasons why the LA Clippers should feel confident about their chances of making a comeback.
The Clippers trailed by two games against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round and were arguably up against a striking level of individual brilliance when they took on Doncic. The Utah Jazz. though, have a better overall roster in comparison to the Mavericks. Nevertheless, the LA Clippers have reason for optimism.
Both games in this series have been reasonably close, despite Mitchell dominating proceedings. The first match required a clutch block from Rudy Gobert. while Game 2 was very much alive till late in the fourth quarter.
The LA Clippers were more efficient with their shooting than the Utah Jazz in Game 1 but lost due to a low volume of attempts in the game. Reggie Jackson’s impressive performance in Game 2 allowed the LA Clippers to stay in contention till the very end.
In other words, the LA Clippers know what it takes to make comebacks in postseason series. On that note,let's take a look at three things the Clippers could do to get back into contention against the Utah Jazz:
#1 The LA Clippers need to defend Donovan Mitchell better
Combatting Donovan Mitchell will be first on the list of 'to-do' things for the LA Clippers. Mitchell has been absolutely sensational in the two matches this series, scoring at will.
He produced 45 points in Game 1 and followed that up with 37 in the second. Donovan Mitchell has enjoyed bright starts in both games, with the LA Clippers failing to stop Mitchell, despite double-teaming him with Kawhi Leonard.
Mitchell has shown maturity with his decision-making in terms of pulling the trigger. He might find himself guarded by the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the rest of the series.
Facing a similar situation against Doncic in Round 1, a more aggressive defensive approach and better support from role players for their two stars helped the LA Clippers stage a comeback. That tactic could work in this series too.
#2 The LA Clippers need to shoot better
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have not been at their best offensively. So the fact that the LA Clippers have still managed two close matches should give them confidence. Ivica Zubac and Luke Kennard came off the bench in Game 1 and scored in double digits.
In Game 2, it was Reggie Jackson who came off the bench and top-scored for the LA Clippers with 29 points while converting half of his eight 3-point attempts.
Marcus Morris showed against the Dallas Mavericks that he is capable of supporting the Clippers’ two stars offensively, with DeMarcus Cousins and Nicolas Batum also capable of scoring crucial points.
The Clippers need their role players to step up alongside their stars in the remainder of this series, with DeMarcus Cousins in particular expected to earn extra game time.
#3 Kawhi Leonard needs to come to the fore
Kawhi Leonard has been in red-hot form and is expected to continue that in this series. He is capable of carrying a team to a championship, doing that with the Toronto Raptors, but he has not been at his best in the two matches so far. Leonard has been shooting at 47.2% so far against the Jazz, something he needs to improve.
Leonard will be focussed on trying to restrict Donovan Mitchell. Both Leonard and George are capable defenders who have underwhelmed in the two games so far. But the LA Clippers have enough quality in their roster to get past the Utah Jazz, provided Kawhi Leonard turns up.
Overall, the Clippers have not been dominated by the Jazz despite Donovan Mitchell’s exemplary form. The Clippers were the better shooting team in Game 1, something they need to continue in the rest of the series.