There is a saying that a series does not start until someone loses at home. I don't totally buy into that frame of thought, but it has some sense to it in a weird way. Yes, you are down two games, but look how quickly your confidence and expectations can change with one victory in Game 3 at home in front of supportive fans.
Now all of a sudden you regain some confidence and momentum and doubts creep inside the psyche of your opponent.
Now all of a sudden you are one victory away from tying the series.
Now all of sudden the visiting team is feeling the heat of probably having to go back home with a series tied and the possibility of losing and facing elimination in front of the fans of the squad you had down 2-0 a short time ago.
No team is ever out of it. Especially you have not played at home yet. That's what makes a seven-game series so exciting and that's why the NBA playoffs is the best anxiety rush you can buy.
Here are some keys that can bring these thoughts to life for the teams down 0-2.
WHAT MEMPHIS MUST DO
Decide how to guard Chris Paul and stick to it. He can't be allowed to dictate tempo, find teammates and decide to score whenever he wants.
Why not trap and take the ball out of his hands on pick-and-rolls and see if the Clippers can make jump shots even though some may be wide open? The only players I would fear if I were the Grizzlies would be Chauncey BIllups and Jamal Crawford.
Lionel Hollins has to convince Mike Conley that he can not get macho with Paul and go tit for tat. He is not capable and it gets the Grizzlies out of rhythm. His focus should be getting the ball inside to Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph so they can draw double teams and create open shots.
Let Jerryd Bayless have the green light when on the floor with the second unit. The Grizzlies bench will never match up with the Clippers reserves. Bayless needs to average double figures for the rest of this series or I can't see a comeback.
WHAT THE LAKERS MUST DO
There is only one player on the Lakers that is capable of pulling off a generic impression of Kobe Bryant and his name is Antawn Jamison. The Lakers need an offensive explosion from an unlikely source.
Metta World Peace will not explode offensively and will at best equal the production of Kawhi Leonard. The Lakers need more.
The Spurs' entire game plan is built around making life miserable for Steve Nash and the Twin Towers.
Going back home will not be the answer in this series if Mike D'Antoni does not roll the dice and gets ultra creative in order to stop Tony Parker or finding that unlikely source.
This will be the most difficult series to turn around because it's hard to replace the 28 points of Bryant, who happens to be the best finisher in basketball too.
WHAT HOUSTON MUST DO
Jeremy Lin must show up in game 3 and 4 (if his chest is OK). It will be mission impossible for the Rockets if he continues to shoot this poorly and is destroyed defensively as well.
Good move to insert Patrick Beverly to counter the speed of Russell Westbrook, but he can't depend on him grabbing double figure rebounds every game and so Greg Smith will need to step up.
The Rockets must find a way to either help Harden get an edge on free-throw attempts or create more team field goal opportunities.
Play Thomas Robinson or admit the Kings were right about him because Patrick Patterson would have been huge in this series. The Rockets are predictable and continued substitution patterns could create a spark plug that could very well change the course of series.
WHAT MILWAUKEE MUST DO
The easiest route for the Bucks to get back in this series would be to have someone lock LeBron James and Dwyane Wade up at the hotel.
Seriously, I am grasping for straws. But heck, it's not easy to give hope to an eighth seed that has two diminutive guards – Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis – who fluctuate offensively like the Milwaukee weather.
The only chance the Bucks have is if these two guards start to wreck havoc by balancing shot selection with the constant notion of doing it to create shots for teammates.
The Bucks no doubt have an ability to win Game 3 , but it will be because Ellis and Jennings play lights out and their interior players win the battle of the paint.
Forget it, I can't think of anything else short of Oscar Robertson and Bob Lanier being transported from the past.
WHAT BOSTON MUST DO
This is a young man's game. When old men win, it's usually because the young team is immature and has not found its way to understanding winning basketball.
The Celtics have no answer for the offensive machine named Carmelo Anthony and definitely can't counter the explosion off the bench called JR Smith.
Boston must find a way to reach down and create some home-court energy to somehow parlay it into some offensive production in the second half.
The Celtics must also find a way to get production all at once from Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Jeff Green to negate not being able to produce in the second half of games against the stifling defense employed by Mike Woodson.
The Knicks have controlled the pace of the series so far and the Celtics are in dire need to figure out how to slow it down so they have energy down the stretch to allow Pierce to be a factor.
WHAT ATLANTA MUST DO
Josh Smith is seeing first hand why he did not make the All-Star team: It's Paul George. George has dominated the Hawks in both games and his confidence seems to be rising to superstar levels.
The Hawks are being outworked and it's sad to see it during playoff games. A +29 free-throw advantage pretty much tells the story.
Atlanta's offense looks haphazard and if they want back in the series they need to find ways to create opportunities in the paint and balance free-throw numbers.
They must also make George one-dimensional because he is beating the Hawks in a plethora of ways and that is keeping them at bay.