Luka Doncic has Strong Words for Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard After Game 6

Kawhi Leonard, Clippers, defends Luka Doncic (right)

Getty Kawhi Leonard, Clippers, defends Luka Doncic (right)

It’s been clear, throughout the course of this knockdown opening-round series between the Clippers and Mavericks, that the performance of the star players would decide things. So after being massively outplayed in Game 5 by Dallas’ Luka Doncic, it was time for the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard to take over in Game 6 on the road if L.A. was to avoid elimination and force a Game 7.

Leonard delivered with 45 points on an incredibly efficient 18-for-25 shooting.

“I mean, he destroyed us,” Doncic said after the game. “That’s what it is. He had a hell of a game. And that’s what he does.”

Leonard’s play helped the Clippers overcome an all-around poor shooting night from everyone else, including fellow star Paul George, who was 6-for-15 in the game with 20 points. As a whole, the Clippers used nine players in Game 6 and those who were not named Kawhi Leonard shot just 34.6% from the field.

Not only did Leonard excel with the ball, he was also defending Doncic in stretches. Doncic had 29 points on 11-for-24 shooting.

“That was one-on-one right there,” George said. “You know, to do it on both sides, not only was he scoring but you know, he was doing everything to stop, making it tough on the other end. You saw one of the best, if not the best two-way players at his best, and so it was fun to watch. But you know, I’ve got to do more. I’ve got to be better. We can’t put that pressure on him on a nightly basis.”

Leonard Has Appeared in Five Game 7s

The next time we see the Clippers, though, it will not be on a nightly basis—Game 7 will be played Sunday afternoon, at 3:30 Eastern time.

Of anyone on the floor for that one, Leonard will be one of the most experienced in past Game 7s, having appeared in five Game 7s in his career. His record is 2-3 and, most recently, he utterly flamed out against the Nuggets in the conference semifinals in the NBA’s restart bubble last year. He shot 6-for-22 in that game, with 14 points, as the Clippers were blown out by Denver.

More famously, though, Leonard dominated the Sixers in 2019, when he was with the Raptors, in Game 7 of the conference semifinals. He scored 41 points, including a difficult jumper as time expired to give Toronto the win, on the way to the Raptors’ first championship.

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Leonard was stoic, as usual, when asked about his Game 7 experience.

“I don’t live in the past,” he said. “I don’t think about stuff like that. It’s about tomorrow. That’s all it’s about, taking what I see from tonight’s game and try to bring it into the next one, but I don’t think like that.”

Experience Could Matter in Game 7

OK, so Leonard was not saying much about Game 7 experience. But his coach, Tyronn Lue, certainly did. He said he expects the Clippers to lean on Leonard—as well as George, who has been in four Game 7s (he is 1-3)—going into the game.

Lue was asked how much the Clippers will lean on Leonard’s experience on Sunday.

Ty Lue Postgame; Clippers beat the Mavs in Game 6NOTICE: No links of ANY type will be allowed in the Comments section. They will be removed. Many Comments are not being posted bcs YouTube blocks the foul language and we can't keep up with the amount of Comments to approve. Therefore, if you want to see your Comment posted automatically, please refrain from using…2021-06-05T04:16:08Z

“A lot,” Lue said. “I think with him and PG and just being able to lean on those guys, especially early on in the game, that first quarter is going to be huge, getting off to a good start at home. You know, they are going to lean on Kawhi a lot because he’s been through it and he understands what it takes, so just his poise and his approach, we are going to be fine.”

Rajon Rondo, the veteran leader off the bench, has been in seven Game 7s in his career, and has gone 4-3 in them.

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