Kawhi Leonard is not to be trifled with at the moment.
The Los Angeles Clippers superstar has played like a man driven in the Clips’ first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks, averaging 33 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.3 steals. He’s also shooting lights out (62.7 percent), and as it turns out, the Clippers forward’s numbers are scary stuff if you’re Luka Doncic and company.
Via Farbod Esnaashari of Sports Illustrated, Leonard is just “the third player in the Shot Clock Era to have at least 29 points while shooting at least 66% from the field in three consecutive playoff games.”
Kawhi isn’t making easy shots, either, and coupled with the defense he has been bringing of late, this now feels like L.A.’s series to lose after initially going down 0-2.
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Clippers May Be Putting it Together at Right Time
Per Law Murray of The Athletic, the Mavericks were 27-0 during the regular season when leading after the first quarter, and the Clippers were the first team all season to hand them a loss. When Dallas led 34-31 in the first quarter of Game 3 (it initially jumped out to a 30-11 lead with just under 5:00 in the first), the Clippers managed to pull it together and eke out a win, and it felt at times as though Leonard willed his team to victory.
“I think that we responded well,” Leonard said about how the Clips responded. “You know, especially coming back from that lead in Game 3, you know, tonight, starting off with a good quarter and building on that throughout the game.”
“The pace and speed he’s playing with is what we need – and it’s unbelievable,” Clippers head coach Ty Lue said about Leonard’s recent play. “He’s phenomenal, also catching the ball and making assists and attacking early. We need to continue to keep doing that. We have some work to do, but I like the direction we’re trending in.”
Leonard, however, was quick to credit his teammates for the Clips’ recent resurgence.
“We’ve got to come out with a defensive mentality,” Leonard said, via The Athletic. “Keep trusting each other on both ends of the floor. Play with pace, urgency on the defensive end. Limiting them to one shot.”
Kawhi & Paul George Have Been Feeling It of Late
Determined to prove “Pandemic P” was a fluke, Paul George has been clutch in the series, averaging 25 points, 8.5 boards and 4.5 assists a game through four games against the Mavs.
“I think we both have just done an incredible job complementing each other,” George said about playing with Leonard. “He’s been all-out driving, attacking, putting pressure on (them) and myself, as well. When he needs a break, when he needs a breather, now I’m in attack mode… It’s fun.”
The fact that the Clippers are having fun is great — but they’re also laser-focused on the present goal. “The job is not done yet, so we’ve got to keep having an even-keel mindset,” Leonard added. “Get ready for the next one.”