The Dallas Mavericks are poised to add another chapter to the Los Angeles Clippers’ playoff misery.
With everyone in the NBA focused on fan misconduct, the Clippers find themselves in a familiar position after losing the first two games at Staples Center.
Now, as the best-of-seven series shifts to the Lone Star State, the Mavericks can deliver a potentially decisive blow in Game 3 on Friday night.
No team has overcome a 3-0 deficit in the NBA playoffs. The Clippers are hardly a candidate to break that trend, facing a first-round elimination for the fourth time in six years.
“We’re nowhere yet,” Dallas’s Kristaps Porzingis said. “That’s a good step for where we want to go. But there’s still more to do. We have to keep our heads in the right place and on to the next one.”
Also Friday, the Atlanta Hawks get their first home playoff game since 2017 when they take on the Knicks after splitting the first two contests in New York, while the Brooklyn Nets look to go up 3-0 on the Celtics when the Eastern Conference series shifts to Boston.
The Hawks-Knicks series was marred by an incident Wednesday night when a fan spit on Atlanta star Trae Young while he was preparing to inbound the basketball in the fourth quarter of New York’s 101-92 win.
“It’s unacceptable. I don’t even understand it,” Atlanta’s John Collins said. “You come to arena to watch a basketball game, where does it come into your mind to spit at someone? It’s so disrespectful.”
In another game Wednesday, a fan dumped popcorn on Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook as he was leaving a game in Philadelphia with an ankle injury.
Both the Knicks and the 76ers issued apologies and banned those involved in the ugly incidents, which again raised concerns about the safety of players in a sport where fans sit right next to the court.
The issue is heightened even more as the coronavirus pandemic eases across the United States, prompting teams to open their arenas to the largest crowds of the season.
The NBA said rules surrounding fan behaviour will be “vigorously enforced” through the rest of the playoffs.
“The return of more NBA fans to our arenas has brought great excitement and energy to the start of the playoffs, but it is critical that we all show respect for players, officials and our fellow fans,” the league said.
The Clippers will be dealing with a large, boisterous crowd in Dallas, where more than 15,000 fans are expected for Game 3.
That doesn’t bode well for Los Angeles, which parted with coach Doc Rivers after an upset loss to Denver in the second round of last years playoffs. With Tyronn Lue now on the sidelines, nothing much has changed for the Clippers.
The franchise, which started as the Boston Braves in 1970 and also had a stint in San Diego, has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs.