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LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 14: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Los Angeles Clippers slam dunks against Derrick Favors #15 of the Utah Jazz during the first half in Game Four of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Staples Center on June 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo : Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
You can never write off the Los Angeles Clippers. They have trailed 0-2 in their first two playoff series this postseason. Both times they have managed to claw back and even the series at two games apiece.
Momentum is with Ty Lue’s men again after defeating the Utah Jazz, 118-104, in Game 4 of their best-of-seven series Monday night.
The key to the Clippers’ resurgence has been the outstanding play of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
Leonard and George provide the spark in Game 4
Leonard was fantastic on both ends in Game 4, scoring 31 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and recording three assists and two steals. He brought the house down in the latter stages of the first half, with a monster dunk over Derrick Favors that pushed LA’s advantage to 24 points. It was game over at that point.
On the other hand, Paul George continued to prove his doubters wrong, finishing with 31 points, nine rebounds, and four assists. He was sizzling from beyond the arc, knocking down six of his ten three-point attempts. Leonard and George ensured that LA protected its homecourt, scoring at least 30 points apiece in Games 3 and 4.
Leonard and George are now just the third duo in NBA history to score at least 20 points in their team’s first 11 games in the playoffs. The last duo to accomplish that rare feat was Shaquille O’Neal and the late great Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2003.
It wasn’t just Leonard and George who carried the offensive cudgels for the Clippers in Game 4. Marcus Morris Sr. was unstoppable as the Clips’ third scoring option, dropping 24 points on 5 of 6 shooting from deep. With much of the Jazz’s attention focused on Leonard and George, the opportunities will be there for Morris and the other LA players to score open baskets.
Morris has been a vital cog for the Clippers this postseason and a key contributor to their success. In LA’s six victories this postseason, Morris has shot a remarkable 59.3% from deep, knocking down 16 of 27 3-point attempts. However, he has struggled in the Clippers’ five playoff losses, shooting just 7 of 33 (21.2%) from beyond the arc. It’s paramount for the Clippers to get Morris going in Game 5 if they are to steal homecourt advantage.
Mitchell needs to solve the Clippers’ defense fast
The series now shifts to Utah for Game 5, with the Jazz desperate to find solutions to the Clips’ defense. Ever since the second half of Game 2, when LA started to employ the zone defense, the Jazz has had trouble creating openings on the offensive end.
The Clippers have done a masterful job defending Donovan Mitchell, sending different looks, be it a trap, a double team, or collapsing on his drives. Even though he scored 37 points in Game 4, things weren’t easy for Mitchell, who shot just 9 of 26 from the field.
It will be interesting to see the status, however, of Kawhi Leonard for Game 5. He tweaked his knee and sat the final 4:35 of Game 4 after a collision with Joe Ingles. Leonard eased concerns, though, in his post-game interview with TNT, saying “I’ll be good” for Game 5.
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