After dropping the first two games in Utah, the Clippers asserted their presence in the series with a blowout win on Saturday night in Game 3, following the lead of their two stars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to make clear that the series would not be that easy for the Jazz to take.
The first half of Game 4 went an awful lot like Game 3, as the Clippers continue to shoot the ball well, the Jazz’s offense is stuck in the mud, and L,A.’s top stars are controlling the action on both ends. L.A.’s commitment to small-ball has paid off in a big way against the Jazz’s big lineups, getting Utah into rotation and opening up great looks from the outside. Late in the first half of Game 4, with the Clippers already in control and up 22 points, Kawhi put the exclamation point on the half with a monstrous dunk on Derrick Favors.
This photo from the Clippers photographer really does the dunk justice as a poster dunk, with Donovan Mitchell’s face offering a perfect encapsulation of how everyone felt when Kawhi suddenly rose up for the jam.
The dunk was so good that Joel Embiid, fresh off a disappointing loss to the Hawks in Game 4 in Atlanta, was watching the game while doing his presser and had to stop, mid-answer, to react to Kawhi’s massive dunk.
Rough night, but at least one thing kept Joel’s spirits up tonight pic.twitter.com/Zmeaq3Cep6
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) June 15, 2021
Joel Embiid “From the beginning of the game, even before I went back to the locker room, I just felt like I didn’t have it tonight. And of course you can kind of…Oh my god? See that dunk? See that Kawhi Dunk. Man…But you could see from the beginning of the game it was tough.”
— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) June 15, 2021
It was the dunk of the playoffs to this point, and as often happens when Kawhi rises up, it felt so out of nowhere that it made the genuine surprise of it all even more exciting, even for Joel Embiid dealing with the physical pain of his knee and the emotional pain of seeing the Hawks erase an 18-point deficit.