The Los Angeles Clippers failed to replicate the comeback that they did against the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz in the previous rounds. Tyronn Lue’s men are 3-1 down for the first time in the NBA 2021 Playoffs after losing Game 4 against the Phoenix Suns.
While they do have the team and the mentality to turn it around from here. But the biggest handicap for the Clippers in this series has been Kawhi Leonard’s absence on the court. His presence would have changed the course of the game on either end. He is someone who brings in quality on the pitch both in offense and defence coupled with his leadership. Currently, there are questions among fans and experts that whether Leonard will play in the most crucial match in their NBA postseason. However, Paul George feels that Leonard should only come back when he is feeling alright as he cares about his long term health.
Whenever the Clippers were under any pressure it was Leonard who became the saviour. Starting from Game 7 against the Dallas Mavericks where he dropped a 28 points double double. He also scored a 34 points match winner against the Jazz in game 3 when they were 2-0 down.
The forward averaged 30.4 points, 7.7 boards and 4.2 assists per game in the playoffs this season. This proves how his absence has been a major hit for Tyronn Lue and his men. These numbers are similar to his numbers during his stint with the Toronto Raptors when they won the NBA Championship under his leadership.
In the post-game press conference, Paul George gave an update about his return to Game 5. He said, ” “I can’t speak on the health of Kawhi. If he’s not 100%, we won’t want him out there. As a brother and a teammate, his health long term is more important.”
Rushing a player just because it is a do or die game creates chaos for the player involved and also with others in the team. We have already seen what happened to the Lakers duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Hence the Clippers need their best players in PG13, Reggie Jackson, Patrick Beverley and others to step up and at least save Game 5 and hand Leonard more time to make a comeback.