This year’s condensed season offered little time to rest between games and was played under the threat of pandemic postponements, but the consensus among players and coaches is that it was much easier than the restart last summer in Orlando, writes Mark Medina of USA Today. Former Clippers coach Doc Rivers called it “1,000 times worse” to be stuck for weeks at the Disney World complex.
“Half the players didn’t want to be there,” said Rivers, whose L.A. team squandered a 3-1 lead in the second round last year. “The bubble almost depended on the teams that committed to being there and teams that didn’t. I had a team that obviously was not happy with being in the bubble.”
Clippers forward Paul George spoke for most of the players when he talked about the difficulties of being confined to a strange environment. Players had to remain on a limited portion of the Disney campus and had little contact with the outside world for fear of bringing COVID-19 into the environment.
“This year has been easier because I have outlets,” George said. “I’m able to live a normal life. I can go home. I can see my family, spend time with my family and interact with people outside of this team. That alone has been a big difference to be back to some normalcy.”
There’s more from Los Angeles:
- The Clippers are facing a 2-0 series deficit just as they did in the first round, but the Jazz may be tougher to overcome, suggests Mark Medina of USA Today. No team has ever been able to climb out of multiple 0-2 holes in the same postseason, and the top-seeded Jazz are a much deeper team than the Mavericks squad that L.A. defeated in the first round. “They weren’t ranked No. 1 in the West for no reason. This is a tough team. But we’re approaching this the same way Dallas was,” George said. “As good as they’re playing and as tough as this matchup is, we still feel like there’s moments throughout this game and this series that we’re making plays that are self inflicted. It’s a lot of uphill. But we’re optimistic that we can get this under control.”
- For tonight’s Game 3, the Clippers are reverting to the smaller lineup that was successful against Dallas, tweets Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Nicolas Batum was back in the starting five, with Ivica Zubac coming off the bench.
- In case you missed it, Serge Ibaka will miss the rest of the playoffs after undergoing season-ending surgery on his back.