Arms folded, slightly slouched in his seat as he addressed the media via Zoom late Thursday night, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Ty Lue didn’t have much to say following a 117-111 loss to the Utah Jazz.
Frankly, Lue didn’t have to say anything, because his posture said everything.
The Clippers are again sledding uphill, trailing the Jazz, 2-0, in this best-of-seven Western Conference second-round series. This, after they fell behind to the Dallas Mavericks, 2-0, in the first round.
“No messages, I really don’t talk after the game,” Lue said matter-of-factly when asked what he said to his team after the loss. “‘Bring it in, let’s go, we’re going back home,’”
Lue’s team survived the Mavericks, dropping those first two games in LA, then tying the series on the road before again falling behind 3-2. The Clippers took Game 6 in Dallas, then Game 7 back in LA just for the right to show up at Vivint Arena and fall in another two-game hole.
It remains to be seen if the Clippers are capable of summoning another season-saving stretch as the series shifts to STAPLES Center for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday, respectively.
For what it’s worth, no team in NBA history has overcome multiple 2-0 deficits in a single postseason.
[Read more: Complete Utah Jazz playoff coverage]
“We all got to put our will out on the floor,” Kawhi Leonard said. “See what we did in the first two games, try to limit our mistakes, and learn from that. We’ll see what we have to do tomorrow, and we’ve got a lot of fight left. We’re up for the challenge.”
The problems facing the Clippers as they go home are numerous. For starters, the obvious, glaring issue is that they have no answer for Donovan Mitchell, who followed a 45-point outburst in Game 1 with 37 more in Game 2, including 27 in the first half, when nothing worked.
Individual defenders, double teams, even a triple team, nothing. Mitchell has played 76 minutes of basketball in this series, and has gotten whatever he has wanted on the offensive end.
Leonard and Paul George have played to a combined minus-35 rating through two games.
Rudy Gobert is an absolute defensive force of nature at the rim, the re-minted NBA Defensive Player of the Year finishing with a playoff career-high 20 rebounds and three blocks.
Joe Ingles scored 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting and 4-for-7 from 3-point range, marking a breakout for the Australian lefty, who was 2-for-18 from deep over the last four games dating back to Game 3 of the previous series against the Memphis Grizzlies.
None of these problems have an easy fix, and they likely aren’t fully going away with this series being played every other day through the end. The Clippers are going to have to figure this out on the fly.
“We got to give them credit, this is a tough opponent,” George said. “They weren’t No. 1 in the West for no reason, but we are approaching this the same way Dallas was, a lot of possessions we can clean up and are hurting us and are our fault.”