The San Antonio Spurs (31-20) are off to a fast start thanks to a major offseason move and one of the best players in the league. Kawhi Leonard, who was traded to San Antonio last summer, has played his way into being one of the best players in the NBA.
Kawhi Leonard knows exactly how to erase the Clippers’ 0-2 deficit. In the first Los Angeles Clippers-Toronto Raptors game of the 2017-18 NBA season, Leonard fired up the Toronto crowd with 41 points, six rebounds and five assists, dominating on both ends of the court. He was one of only two players to score at least 40 points and dish out at least five dimes in the season opener, only topped by Russell Westbrook. The Clippers have the second-worst record in the NBA, so their fans need all the motivation they can get.
The San Antonio Spurs are a team known for their depth, but they are hitting some road bumps this season. Kawhi Leonard has slowed down, and his team can’t seem to get a win. What is the answer? The experts say he needs to get rest, but that won’t help the team that is going all out to keep their superstar happy. We’ll see how this road trip for the Spurs goes.
The Los Angeles Clippers lead 2-0 in the first round of the NBA playoffs. This is a surprise, as the Clippers were considered the favorites to beat the Mavericks in five or six games. But there are so many factors that contributed to the Clippers’ 0-2 run. The Clippers’ defense, rotation and lack of input from their role players are the main reasons. Kawhi Leonard, meanwhile, is doing everything he can to keep the Clippers alive.
He played 41 minutes in both games and scored 26 and 41 points in games one and two, respectively. Clough gets a lot of help from his assistant Paul George, who is also having a great season. But the Clippers can’t stop Luka Doncic, who is the best player in the series so far.
You know what, let’s watch the second Clippers/Mavericks game pic.twitter.com/O32FFj1vbA
– Steve Jones Jr (@stevejones20) May 26, 2021
Luka Doncic is averaging 35 points, 9.0 assists and 8.5 rebounds per game. It’s also good that Doncic’s teammates are trying their hardest: they seem to be the most motivated team in this series. The question for Leonard and the Clippers now is: How will they react? Clippers coach Ty Lue was already down 3-1 in the series, but he had LeBron James to help him pull off one of the biggest defeats in NBA Finals history. Can Leonard do the same?
The answer is yes. Leonard and his team can find a way to rebound after the last two games – it will just be harder. The Clippers need to figure out how to defend Doncic, keep Tim Hardaway Jr. in check and hope the Mavs don’t make three-pointers like they have the past few games. Leonard had already gone 0-2 and found a way to win an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors.
Leonard is supposed to be the leader. After all, he is their best player. Klau is known as an unremarkable star player, but that’s not possible in the NBA, especially during the playoffs. When a team is about to go 0-3, they watch their leader react – and follow through.
To be fair, Leonard has been a good role model for his teammates this season. After playing just a few games last season, Leonard has appeared often in back-to-back games this season and has played with heart. Now he needs to change the Clippers culture and perhaps play even harder in the next two games, which could very well be the most important for the Clippers franchise.
Leonard also needs as much help as possible. George was great, but their role players weren’t going anywhere. Where is Marcus Morris Sr. ? Reggie Jackson not playing well in the playoffs? What about Luke Kennard? The Clippers signed him to a $64 million contract this season. They all need to prove themselves and become the Clippers, who had one of the best offenses in the league this season.
Leonard must do everything he can this season to close the 0-2 gap and lead his team to victory in a variety of ways. His game already allows for that, but Leonard will have to work with Liu to figure out how to defend the Mavs. Playing in a crowded and hostile American Airlines Center won’t be easy, but if the Clippers want to save the final days of the Leonard George era, they’ll have to take the field with a sense of desperation.
You can’t defend yourself if you don’t strike out. That’s what I think. They were definitely the more physical team, and I don’t know why. We talked about that. We have to be more physical, we have to swing, we have to get into a batting position.
Ty Lue on the Clippers’ offensive rebound against the Mavs pic.twitter.com/I0HwH4yoSC
– Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) May 27, 2021
The next few days will be a serious test for Kawhi Leonard. Will his team fail again under pressure? Or will it help them overcome their biggest challenge of the season? Right now, fans are complaining about how the Clippers tried to outrun the Lakers in the first round, but Doncic and his team have dominated the last two games.
As the team’s superstar, Leonard must give his all. And he has to do it now. Kawhi came to Los Angeles to be closer to home and perhaps finally become the face of the franchise. He gave that impression when New Balance (the brand Kawhi signed with) released slogans that Los Angeles was now his city. Now it’s up to Leonard to prove it.
In fact, there’s a good chance the Mavs won’t make 50 percent from the field and from three-point range. The Clippers can’t control the Mavs’ shooting, but they can certainly make an effort to contain it. Offensively, Liu needs to find a way to improve his rotation and have his role players play like they did in the regular season.
If Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers are dynamic and win their next two games, they will regain the lead.
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