The two Los Angeles teams have been at the centre of intrigue during the first few games of the NBA playoffs. After both the Lakers and Clippers lost Game 1, everyone was wondering how they would respond in Game 2.
The Lakers responded the way many champions do as they squeaked out a big road win to even the series. Although, the Suns were not at full strength due to Chris Paul’s shoulder injury, which is a huge problem moving forward.
However, the Clippers are in even bigger trouble as they went down 2-0 to Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, who continue to exploit the massive holes in LA’s defence.
Read on below for SBOTOP’s key takeaways from the latest round of Game 2s in the NBA playoffs.
Chris Paul injury poses big problem for Suns
The Los Angeles Lakers have levelled up their series against the Phoenix Suns with a 109-102 win in Game 2.
After their Game 1 struggles, LeBron James and Anthony Davis were expected to bounce back in Game 2, and they did just that. The Lakers superstars combined for 57 points and made clutch baskets down the stretch to seal the much-needed victory.
On the other side, though, the Suns received next to nothing from star point guard Chris Paul, who was clearly still limited from the right shoulder injury he suffered in Game 1. Paul, who has been so crucial to the Suns’ surprising success this season, finished with a mere six points and five assists in 23 minutes and did not play the last seven minutes of the game.
Backup Cameron Payne did a terrific job filling in, scoring 19 points and dishing out seven assists in 33 minutes off the bench. But the Suns clearly missed Paul, who has been one of the top clutch players in the entire league for several years. His absence was all too evident when the Suns held scoreless for several minutes late in the fourth quarter, which allowed the Lakers to pull away.
Paul’s inability to produce much of anything offensively will be a massive problem for the Suns moving forward in this series. He is their second-best scorer behind Devin Booker and is key to setting up the Suns’ spot-up shooters. And as good as Payne was in Game 2, he is unlikely to play quite as well again.
The Suns will continue to fight in Games 3 and 4 in LA, but unless Paul’s shoulder makes a drastic recovery, Phoenix will likely experience similar shortcomings offensively, especially in close games.
Clippers’ defence disastrous against Dallas
The Clippers, one of the top title contenders heading into the season, are collapsing in the playoffs once again. They are halfway toward an embarrassing first-round exit after losing their first two games at home to the Dallas Mavericks.
The Clippers continue to have no answer for Luka Doncic, who delivered more NBA 2021 highlights with 39 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in Game 2.
Kawhi Leonard did all he could to keep the Clips from falling into a 2-0 hole. He scored 41 points in 41 minutes, 30 of which came in the first half. Paul George also had 28 points and 12 rebounds, but he went just 1-of-7 on 3-pointers.
However, the Clippers need solutions on the defensive end, where they have been unable to slow down Doncic and Dallas’ excellent 3-point shooting. The Mavs are shooting a sizzling 50 per cent from beyond the arc over the first two games, with Tim Hardaway Jr. torching them with his 11-of-17 shooting.
It is unlikely that the Mavericks will be able to keep up that incredible rate of shooting and the Clippers can make major improvements on defence. But with Doncic playing at such a high level, the Clippers could still struggle to stand any chance of mounting a comeback against the Mavs in this series.
Nets halfway toward sweep of Celtics
After a somewhat competitive first half by the Celtics in Game 1, the Nets have shown in the last three halves of basketball why the NBA 2021 betting odds have them as favourites to win the title this season.
Brooklyn blew out Boston by 22 points in Game 2 and have a commanding 2-0 lead in their first-round series. The Nets won so easily that none of their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden even had to play 30 minutes.
The Celtics were not helped by the fact that star Jayson Tatum once again struggled to score and also had to leave the game early with an eye injury. But with no Jaylen Brown, they were never expected to give the Nets much of a fight, and now they are two games away from a first-round sweep.
VISIT OUR BLOG TO GET YOUR FIX FOR ALL OF THE MOST CURRENT BASKETBALL NEWS STORIES & FEATURES