Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers will return to Los Angeles for Game 3 with a 1-1 split against the Phoenix Suns. Despite coughing up a 13-point lead and losing the game, LA’s superstar forward wasn’t concerned with the loss.
Here’s what the two-time NBA Finals MVP had to say when asked by the media about the Clippers’ mindset:
“We’re in a good place. We split on the road. Gotta go home and protect our home floor.”
The Clippers had a 23-18 record at Crypto.com Arena during the regular season. Two of those losses were inflicted by the Phoenix Suns.
Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers remain confident that with the stakes higher, they will be just fine in handling their business against the Suns. Even without Paul George, no one in LA’s roster is fazed by what they have encountered in Phoenix.
Clippers coach Ty Lue shared the same sentiment as the series shift to Los Angeles:
“We believe we can win the series.”
LA will be knocking on the door for a semifinal appearance if they can defend their homecourt in the next two games.
Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook need their teammates to step up
After a jaw-dropping performance in Game 1, Kawhi Leonard lit up the Phoenix Suns again in Game 2. He finished with team-highs in points (31), rebounds (8), assists (7) and steals (3). “The Claw” made 11-20 field goals despite the constant double teams and also hit 3-5 3-pointers.
Russell Westbrook ably backed him up. After a horrific 3-19 shooting in the series opener, Westbrook went 9-16, including 2-3 from behind the arc. He finished the night with 28 points, five rebounds and five assists. The former MVP’s energy, defense and hustle have been bright spots in the first two games of the series.
The rest of the LA Clippers, however, combined for just 50 points. Norman Powell and Eric Gordon struggled to consistently punish the Suns’ defense for all the attention they gave Kawhi Leonard. Bones Hyland made an impact for a few minutes in the third quarter but finished with just six points, missing all four of his 3-pointers.
The LA Clippers are in a good place heading into Game 3 after going home with a split. However, they will quickly find themselves in trouble if no other player other than Leonard and Westbrook steps up.
LA’s perimeter players will have to dig in and do a better job of defending Devin Booker. “Book” had another spectacular game, finishing the night with a game-high 38 points and nine assists.
Kawhi Leonard spends his time on defense, taking on Kevin Durant. With everything else he does on offense, he can’t be asked to put the clamps on Booker as well.
The Clippers can’t go toe-to-toe with the Phoenix Suns in offensive firepower. They’ll have to be much better on the defensive end to defend their home court in the next two games.
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