LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – Batman looks like he has finally found his Robin. While we’re at it, you might as well throw in Cyborg from the Justice League, into the mix. When the Los Angeles Clippers brought Kawhi Leonard and Paul George here two years ago, the duo playing up to their capabilities together would hopefully position the team to make a deep run into the postseason.
Leonard’s mindset is not content with just making a postseason run. He wants to win it all.
“I don’t care about the Western Conference Finals. We’re trying to win the championship,” Leonard said after Game 4.
When both Leonard and George are clicking, it’s going to be hard for any team to stop them. The Utah Jazz are starting to discover that truth. Leonard and George went the high-low route and scored 31 points apiece and Marcus Morris Sr. chipped in 24 as the Clippers evened their semifinal series against the Utah Jazz with a start-to-finish 118-104 win at STAPLES Center.
“Every series is different. But I do like our mindset,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said. “I do like the way that we know how we want to attack and how we want to approach the game. So that’s the No. 1 thing. I just want to give Pat Beverley a lot of credit. Pat Beverley come into the game defensively, what he did for us, he just totally changed the game. So you know, a total team win, Marcus Morris getting off to a great start, Kawhi and PG doing their thing but I thought Pat Beverley really did a great job of coming in and setting that tone for us defensively. Total team win.”
Leonard and the Clippers raced out the gate quickly and never looked back in handing Utah a second straight defeat in the best-of-seven games playoff series.
So, there will be a Game 6. The Jazz may not like it, but now their NBA semifinal playoff series against the Clippers is now down to which team will win two of the last three games. The momentum is now on the side of the Clippers. Donovan Mitchell and all of the Jazz players can’t do anything about it.
“It’s a competition,” Leonard said. “You know, somebody got to win the game and we got to go out with a mindset trying to win. You know, these guys are out there, play hard, play smart and shoot the ball with confidence and see what the results are at the end of the game.”
The Clippers won Game 4 because they handily beat Utah in second-chance points (18-1) and fastbreak points (12-0). Mitchell said that was a result more or less of the Jazz being careless with the basketball.
“I think we shot ourselves in the foot a few times with the turnovers,” Mitchell said. “And that’s really what kind of played into their — now they’re playing in transition as opposed to playing half court and guys get into rhythm.”
Right from the beginning of Game 4, you could feel that this was probably going to be a long night for the Jazz. The Clippers didn’t mess around in this one, coming out strong to close out the first quarter with a 30-13 lead. That early cushion enabled the Clippers to secure a runaway win.
For the Clippers, how far the team goes depends on George. He is clearly the X-factor in this series. Game 4 was George’s second consecutive game scoring 30 points or more. He also scored 31 points in the Clippers’ 132-106 Game 3 win.
“I’ve just got to be aggressive, be aggressive, look for my shots, try to find seams, try to find gaps,” George said in a postgame press conference. “But I think just coming out and being aggressive. Just, you know, play with confidence. Shoot the open jumpers, create space and continue to just try to make the game easier for everyone around me.”
This is the second straight series that the Clippers have rallied from an 0-2 deficit. Against a tough Dallas Mavericks team, the Clippers fell down 0-2 before eventually claiming the series 4-3 after seven gut-wrenching games. The Mavericks didn’t have the best record in the league. That would belong to Mitchell and the Jazz.
Utah is the Western Conference No. 1 seed. The Clippers came into the postseason at No. 4. Besides Mitchell, the Jazz can boast that they have the Defensive Player of the Year in center Rudy Gobert. In the first two games of the series, Gobert dominated. Since the series shifted to Los Angeles, the Clippers have stopped their timid play around the basket and have challenged Gobert.
They came out really aggressive,” Gobert said. “And they tried to force our guys to play one-on-one and make tough plays in the first quarter. And they did a great job forcing us into tough shots or turnovers.”
Game 4 was a great example of that. The Clippers are most effective when they attack the rim. Gobert withstanding, Utah has no answers for the driving penetration of Leonard, George, and the rest of the crew. When Leonard and George put their head down and drive hard to the basket this gives Morris, Luke Kennard,, Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum opportunities to get great looks from behind the arc.
“We got full trust in our teammates,” George said. “Myself and Kawhi got full trust in each other. It’s a healthy mix. We are trying to be aggressive as well as being aggressive for others. It’s opportunities for us to score when we get switches. But then there’s opportunities to allow our teammates to be aggressive and make plays for our teammates when we can attack our mismatches and so I think it’s just a healthy mix. We have to be able to do both.”
Featured Image Caption: June 14, 2021-Paul George (13) of the Los Angeles Clippers goes in for two points against the Utah Jazz in Game 4 of the team’s best-of-seven NBA semifinal playoff series. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline