The LA Clippers have found themselves in another difficult situation.
After dominating the Phoenix Suns on both ends of the floor in Game 3, the Clippers fell flat on offense in Game 4 and suffered their third loss of the Western Conference Finals. With Game 5 on the horizon, LA will have to pull off one of the more difficult tasks in the league to stay alive: Overcome a 3-1 deficit.
It's not like it hasn't been done before. 13 different teams have won after trailing 3-1 in a playoff series, and five of those occurrences have come since 2015. The odds certainly don't favor the Clippers, but it's not like they don't have a chance.
LA also has Tyronn Lue on its side, who became the only coach in league history to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals. On Sunday, Lue shared his philosophy on the matter and how he plans to approach it with his team.
"Just taking it one game at a time," Lue said. "You can't focus on winning three. You have to focus on winning one. It starts quarter by quarter, especially playing on the road right now in Game 5... That's got to be your mindset. You can't think about three games and four or five, six days from now."
If the Clippers are going to steal a win in Game 5, they'll need to start with a big performance from Paul George. The star forward is averaging more than 27 points and 10 rebounds per game in the series, but he's been inefficient as of late, connecting on just 30.4% of his field goal attempts in Games 3 and 4.
LA will also need another scoring option to emerge beyond Reggie Jackson, who has stepped up in the absence of Kawhi Leonard. Terance Mann, Luke Kennard and Marcus Morris Sr. all have an opportunity to take on a more significant role and provide the team with points.
Defensively, the Clippers must continue to limit Chris Paul and Devin Booker. Neither part of Phoenix's backcourt pairing has been efficient in this series, as both players are shooting below 37.5% from the field.
Deandre Ayton has been the bigger concern on that end of the floor. The 22-year-old center has dominated the Clippers on the glass and in the paint, averaging 20.3 points and 13.5 rebounds per game in the series. If LA can find a way to keep him from getting to the rim, they'll be in great shape — but that's much easier said than done.
Regardless of the adjustments, this is a must-win game for the Clippers. A loss will end their season, while a win would prolong the series and open up another opportunity for Leonard to return to the court. So long as they continue to be physical on the defensive end of the floor and can find a way to sink their open looks, they'll have a chance to take Game 5 and force a Game 6 in Los Angeles.
How to Watch
Matchup: LA Clippers (1-3) at Phoenix Suns (3-1)
Date: Monday, June 28
Time: 6:00 p.m. PT
Venue: Phoenix Suns Arena
Spread: Suns -5.5
Moneyline: Clippers +180, Suns -215
Point Total: O/U 214
Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook