The Los Angeles Clippers are on the verge of another playoff disaster. After falling into a 2-0 series hole against the Dallas Mavericks, L.A. faces an uphill battle to make it out of the first round.

Los Angeles has gone from sizable betting favorites to clear underdogs. The Clippers have +225 odds at FanDuel Sportsbook to beat the Mavericks in their first-round series. Dallas is a -290 favorite, needing just two wins over the next five games to eliminate the higher-seeded Clippers.

The Clippers entered the series with -430 odds, but the Mavericks stole home-court advantage with a Game 1 victory at Staples Center. Luka Doncic bested Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in Game 2 for a 127-121 Dallas victory.

Leonard had 30 first-half points in Game 2. The Clippers’ two stars finished with a combined 69 points on 43 field-goal attempts. It didn’t matter since L.A. and its once-vaunted defense couldn’t slow down Doncic or the Mavericks’ shooters.

“We got to come out and play basketball,” Leonard told reporters after Game 2. “Get stops. That is the name of the game right now. They’re shooting too great in the first two games, and we have to help each other. Too many straight-line drives, dunks, layups. We got to hang our hat on the defensive end.”

There’s little reason to believe the Clippers will come out and play much better in Game 3. Los Angeles was embarrassed in the 2020 bubble playoffs, blowing a 3-1 second-round series lead to the Denver Nuggets. Los Angeles’ top players, specifically George, came up short when the pressure was on and the Clippers needed them most.

Trailing 2-0 and headed on the road, the Clippers face even more pressure this year. Los Angeles didn’t come close to meeting expectations in 2020 when they were the NBA favorites. With Leonard headed for free agency and no first-round picks to trade for the next half-decade, the Clippers’ future could turn bleak extremely fast if they can’t even reach the second round.

As the West’s No.4 seed, the Clippers finished five games ahead of the No. 5 seed Mavericks in the regular season. The gap between the two teams would’ve been even greater had the Clippers not tanked down the stretch in order to avoid the Los Angeles Lakers until a possible conference finals matchup.

The Clippers seemingly wanted to face the Mavericks, whom they defeated in six games in the first round of last year’s playoffs. The series was a competitive one because of Doncic’s heroics.

One season later, Dallas’ superstar is playing even better, averaging 35.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 9.0 assists in two victories. If Doncic is going to continue to be the best player on the court, the series might not return to Los Angeles.

Both the Mavericks and Clippers are tied for third in the conference with +650 odds to win the West. The Lakers lead the conference with +170 to reach the NBA Finals.

Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers
Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers Getty Images | Mike Ehrmann