Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers finally took a game off of Utah, but they were in no way aided by their slow starts in each half.
In fact, when you take a look at the first 3 minutes of the first halves and the first 3 minutes of the second halves of all three games, the Clippers have been outscored 50-9. Th Utah Jazz have come out strong in all three games, forcing the Clippers to play catch up all game long.
In games 1 and 2, Utah were able to bury Los Angeles, putting them in too deep a hole to come back from. Despite only winning by three in game 1, the Jazz’s strong start ensured that the Clippers comeback was too little too late. IT almost happened again in game 3, but Kawhi Leonard and an awakened Paul George slowed down Utah’s roll.
“If you look at the first 3 minutes of the 1st quarter in each game and the the first 3 minutes of the 3rd quarter of Games 1 and 2, a collective of 12 minutes, the Jazz have outscored the Clippers 42-9.”
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) June 12, 2021
Note that the margin is 50-9 after game 3.
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Kawhi Leonard & “Playoff P” Paul George Take Control Of Game 3, Stay Alive Against Donovan Mitchell & The Jazz
It might be time to make 0-2 Kawhi Leonard an actual thing now. The Clippers forward has won a third straight game after being down 0-2 in a playoff series. After Milwaukee put Toronto in 2-0 deficit, Kawhi responded with 4 straight victories to reach the Finals.
Last series, the Clippers would 4 of the remaining 5 games to knock off the Mavericks, and now here we are again. Can Kawhi complete another 2-0 comeback? If he plays the way he has, and if his co-star Paul George steps up the way he did last night, then the Clippers may very well come back.
Paul George’s ascension in this game was absolutely vital. Earning the “Pandemic P” moniker after struggling throughout the playoffs, PG-13 had his best game of the postseason by far.
He totaled a playoffs high 31 points while shooting the ball 50% from the field and 60% from 3. He was sensational, and it was exactly the kind of play the Clippers needed from him. Beating Utah isn’t going take a one-man effort. Kawhi is going to be incredible no matter what, but he needs everyone around him to step up, especially Paul George.
George has been a -3 and -12 and games 1 and 2 respectively, and those kind of performance aren’t going to cut. If he shows up how he did today, the Clippers aren’t just a threat to the Jazz, but to the entire NBA. These Clippers were assembled to win a championship and if they fail once again, the team might have to blow things up.
The Clippers did control the first halves of the game much better this time around, so maybe that’s the secret to their success.