As the Los Angeles Clippers gear up for a must-win game on Tuesday night, their backs are against the wall. They’re without star players Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and facing elimination in the first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns.
Despite the odds, the Clippers remain resolute. “We have enough to go win the whole series,” said center Mason Plumlee on Monday. It’s this unwavering confidence that has been key for the Clippers throughout the series.
Head coach Ty Lue knows how important it is to keep his players’ spirits up. “Just stay with it, keep being encouraging. Don’t pull guys out when they make a mistake and when they don’t make shots,” he told reporters after Game 4’s gut-wrenching loss. “It’s more so about giving those guys confidence to play through it a little bit and that’s pretty much my formula.”
The Clippers’ Russell Westbrook has been a standout player, surprising those who doubted him with his career resurgence. His passion, tenacity, and energy have been making a difference for the team. “You lead and communicate differently with guys based on ways to get them to respond,” Westbrook said over the weekend. “Especially this time of year, if I see something, I try to find ways to lead and not talk too much, but make points.”
Despite the challenges they face, the Clippers remain optimistic. “These guys know how to play,” Lue said after Game 2. “I just think the biggest part is the communication, keeping guys confident…especially in the playoffs. You never want one guy’s confidence to waver.” With this mindset, the Clippers are ready to fight until the very end.