Clippers All-Star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are starting to exhibit their full potential as a tandem in these playoffs, writes Mark Medina of USA Today. The two stars made key contributions on both sides of the ball in the Clippers’ victory over the Jazz at the Staples Center yesterday to improve their second-round series record to just 2-1 in favor of Utah.
“They are two of the best in the league,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said last night of Leonard and George. “I don’t go to Mastro’s (an upscale L.A. restaurant) to order a ketchup. I go there to order a steak. And tonight, our guys want steak.”
Medina notes that both players have improved their scoring efficiency and remained healthier than they did last season. A lot is riding on how the Clippers fare in the playoffs this year. Leonard is anticipated to decline his $36MM player option for the 2021/22 season and sign a new long-term deal with the club this summer, while George inked a four-year, $190MM extension with L.A. during the 2020 offseason. Medina wonders if Leonard may reconsider or George may become a trade candidate should the Clippers flame out in the postseason for the second consecutive season.
There’s more out of Los Angeles:
- George’s terrific three-point shooting in the first half helped spark a crucial 132-106 Clippers victory over the Jazz on Saturday night, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. He connected on four triples in the first half and shot 6-of-10 from deep overall.
- Clippers starting point guard Reggie Jackson has evolved into a reliable third scoring option during this postseason, writes Royce Young of ESPN. The 31-year-old’s three-point shooting and ball handling have helped open up scoring options for stars George and Leonard. Across 10 playoff games thus far, Jackson is averaging 16.3 PPG (on 48.3% shooting from the floor), 2.8 RPG, and 2.7 APG in 29.3 MPG. Jackson appears to have outplayed the $1.6MM veteran’s minimum contract he inked with the club during the 2020 offseason, when he was slated to be a reserve behind original starting point guard Patrick Beverley, who is scheduled to earn $14.3MM in 2021/22, his age-33 season.
- With the Clippers securing a pivotal Game 3 win Saturday against the top-seeded Jazz, the team may have found a method for winning the whole series, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. L.A.’s switch-everything defense and impressively effective offensive shot diet made for one of the club’s best games this postseason, Jones writes.