The Los Angeles Clippers might be down 2-0 in their first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks, but head coach Tyronn Lue remains confident going into Game 3.
"I think when you're down 2-0 and you're coming into another team's arena, it shows what you're made of," Lue said Thursday, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. "Our toughness all year, just trust, sticking together, this is going to show us tomorrow who we are and what we are made of. So I'm excited to see [it]."
The Clippers lost the first two games of the series at home and must now win four of the next five to advance to the next round, including at least two on the road. The challenge begins Friday with Game 3 at the American Airlines Center.
"Urgency is the right word," the coach added.
Lue is in his first year as the Clippers head coach after taking over for Doc Rivers, who was fired after a disappointing showing in the postseason. Los Angeles defeated the Mavericks in the first round but blew a 3-1 lead to lose to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals.
A first-round defeat with this roster would be an even greater disappointment.
The Clippers entered each of these past two seasons as one of the favorites to win a title after acquiring both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the summer of 2019. Adding these two All-Stars to a roster that already went 48-34 in 2018-19 made the team appear ready for a successful postseason run.
The group couldn't advance beyond the second round last year and struggled with consistency in the 2020-21 regular season, finishing with just the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference. A 4-6 finish to the season only created more question marks.
The pressure is now on the Clippers to turn things around over the next few games to avoid another embarrassing early exit.
With Leonard potentially becoming a free agent this summer thanks to a player option, this could be the last chance to make a run with the current roster.