In the first round of the NBA Playoffs, the LA Clippers demonstrated their resiliency by recovering from a 2-0 deficit and taking their series with the Dallas Mavericks in seven games.
LA could fall into a similar hole on Thursday night if they drop Game 2 to the Utah Jazz — but mounting a similar comeback doesn't seem anywhere near as likely against a team as collectively talented as Utah.
To their credit, the Clippers were competitively involved in Game 1 up until the final buzzer despite not having a particularly strong performance. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George simply weren't good enough, and outside of a surprise showing from Luke Kennard, they didn't get the help from their role players that they had grown accustomed to in the first round.
The Jazz, on the other hand, were carried by young star Donovan Mitchell, who went off for a game-high 45 points in 37 minutes of action. Mitchell scored 32 of his 45 in the second half, helping his team pull away from the Clippers after falling behind by as many as 14 points in the second quarter.
One way the Clippers can improve in Game 2, according to coach Tyronn Lue, is by owning their space.
"We can't get caught up in the referees and the officials," Lue said Wednesday. "We've got to play through the contact, and we've got to be physical on the offensive end, getting to our spots, running our sets, getting our catches on the elbow... I thought [Utah] did a good job of trying to disrupt that."
Lue also mentioned that he sees bigger roles for Patrick Beverley, DeMarcus Cousins and Ivica Zubac moving forward in this series, so perhaps they're part of his solution to play a more imposing brand of basketball.
Regardless of how the Clippers plan to adjust, tonight's contest should be viewed as a must-win. LA expended a lot of energy to stave off elimination in round one, and if the team plans on going deeper into the playoffs, it can't afford to let this series go on longer than it has to.
How to Watch
Matchup: LA Clippers (0-1) at Utah Jazz (1-0)
Date: Thursday, June 10
Time: 7:00 p.m. PT
Venue: Vivint Smart Home Arena
Spread: Jazz -3
Moneyline: Clippers +128, Jazz -152
Point Total: O/U 223
Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook