Playoffs 2021

NBA Playoffs 2021: Dominant Kawhi Leonard helps Clippers tie series, restore order with commanding Game 4 win

What a turnaround.

After the Mavericks stole the first two games of the series in Los Angeles, everybody knew the Clippers were capable of still making it a series but surely very few expected them to do so in such a dominant fashion.

By clinching Game 4 with a margin of 25 points (106-81), the Clippers have restored order to the series by tying it up at two games apiece and retaking the home-court advantage.

Kawhi Leonard led from the front with an all-round statline of 29 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks on 11-of-15 shooting from the field and a game-high plus-minus of +27.

That's said, here's a quick look at the takeaways:

Kawhi and PG help create separation early

In the critical Game 3 win, the Clippers' All-Star duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combined for 65 points. In Game 4, momentum from that game seemed to have carried over as both superstars started off on fire.

Leonard scored 10 of the Clippers' first 23 points of the game. Then, as he started the second quarter on the bench, George took over and scored 10 of the team's first 12 points in the period to help Clippers extend their lead.

They combined for 35 of the team's 61 first-half points. George finished the game with 20 points and nine rebounds in 35 minutes of action.

Injured Doncic struggles

After being listed questionable a day earlier, Luka Doncic suited up and was ready for Game 4. However, he found it tough to get going while dealing with his neck injury.

After scoring 114 points over the first three games of the series, he struggled to find his touch. He did have a half-court alley-lob for the highlight-reel but struggled to have the same impact he had over the first three games of the series.

In 36 minutes of action, he finished with 19 points, six assists and four turnovers on 9-of-24 shooting from the field.

Those numbers are way off his average of 33.0 points and 8.8 assists through his previous nine playoff games.

Clippers supporting cast make it a blowout

While Leonard and George led from the front, their supporting cast came up big in their different roles

Rajon Rondo, in 20 minutes, finished with seven points, five rebounds and four assists including his epic behind-the-back fake.

Reggie Jackson finished with 15 points in 30 minutes with a plus-minus of +18. Marcus Morris provided his toughness with nine points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes. Veteran Nicolas Batum made his presence felt, finishing with 10 points, five rebounds, four steals, two blocks and a game-high plus-minus of +27.

Tim Hardaway Jr., Mavs go cold

Shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. was a huge contributor from the Mavericks supporting cast in the first three games of the series.

However, in this one, he couldn't get the ball to fall into the hoop. He went from averaging 20.3 points on 65.2% 3-point shooting efficiency (15-23 3Ps) to only scoring four points on 1-of-8 shooting from the field and 0-of-4 from long distance in Game 4.

Apart from Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis was the only other Mavericks in double figures with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting in 28 minutes but he recorded a plus-minus of -21. Other key rotation players for the Mavericks including Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson combined for 15 points on 5-of-20 shooting from the field.

Boban Marjonavic was the only Dallas player to have a positive plus-minus, as he finished with 12 points and six rebounds in his 15-minute spurt.

What's next?

With the Clippers winning both in Dallas, this series has turned on its head. It's now a best-of-3, as both teams and most importantly, Doncic gets an extra day off.

The critical Game 5 is set for Thursday, June 3 at 7:30 a.m. IST.

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