Coming into Tuesday night both Los Angeles basketball teams were in an urgent situation, down 0-1 in their first-round series.
The Lakers answered the challenge. The Clippers? Nope.
The Clippers are in serious trouble after losing their second straight, at home, to Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. According to Land of Basketball, there have been 426 teams that fell behind 0-2 in an NBA playoff series and only 27 (6.3 percent) have come back to advance.
And the irony is the Clippers' failure is probably the Lakers' gain.
Clippers on the brink of a first-round exit
The Western Conference odds at BetMGM had to be reset with the Clippers having, historically speaking, a 93.7 percent chance of being eliminated this round after falling behind 0-2.
Trail Blazers +1800
The odds for the Clippers might be generous. They were +280 before Game 2. The Lakers were +200.
The Clippers are +190 to win their series against the Mavs, and that seems generous too. They can't stop Doncic. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combined for 69 points on Tuesday night but nobody else did much. Now the Clippers have to win four of five, and three of those games will be in Dallas.
Meanwhile, it's hard to figure out who can compete with the Lakers.
Who can beat the Lakers?
The Lakers won Game 2 at Phoenix, with Anthony Davis and LeBron James hitting big shots down the stretch. The Lakers are now -350 to win their series against the Phoenix Suns. Chris Paul being banged up doesn't help the Suns' chances.
If the Lakers get past the Suns and the Clippers don't come back to advance, who is beating the Lakers to win the West? The Jazz probably have the best shot, even though they're down 0-1 in their series with the Memphis Grizzlies. Doncic is great but it's hard to see him carrying the Mavs to three series wins. The Trail Blazers and Nuggets are fine but flawed, and it's tough to see either beating the Lakers.
The Lakers have been favorites to win the West, even when they were in the play-in tournament and down 0-1 to the Suns. Now it looks like +200 to win the West was decent value. The Clippers were always the most likely option to beat the Lakers in the West. But they face a long, long road to even get out of the first round.
The first round of the NBA playoffs isn't even close to being over. Yet, it seems like we can reasonably predict one half of the NBA Finals.
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