The NBA playoffs were a brutal war of attrition, with nearly every team standing in the face of star player injuries. Los Angeles Clippers are no different – Kawhi Leonard is said to have an ACL injury and is outside indefinitely. Much like how Kevin Durant was thrown into the fray without Kyrie Irving, Paul George will be faced with a similar situation.
Do you remember Paul George? The small career forward of 20.2 points per game has recently improved his game, especially in these playoffs.
In the last three games, he has registered 27, 31 and 31 points. He takes his game to new heights, performing at the highest level when his team needs it most. The Clippers started their semifinal streak with the Utah Jazz by dropping their first two games, but recovered to draw.
This series has many stars. On the other side, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert arrived early, putting their mark on this series. Mitchell scored 45 points over the Clippers in Game 1 and 37 in Game 2, a game that also saw Gobert take 20 rebounds.
In Game 3, George has everything set up. His defense improved, his score was there, and he played the role of playmaker and host, adding five assists to his 31 points.
“We feed on that” Nicolas Batum said of George’s Game 3 performance. “He had 20 points in the first half. He got some great shots, he was confident attacking the rim. In defense, he was also excellent. He was talking to everyone during downtime on the pitch. So when PG plays like that, it makes the game easier for the team.
George, as talented as he is, has never led a team to the NBA Finals and has not made a conference finals since taking the Indiana Pacers to the Conference Finals of the ‘Is against the Miami Heat in 2014, a streak they lost in six games. If he wants to make his first NBA Finals appearance, he’ll have to do so as his team’s No.1.
As George goes, so goes the Clippers.
The situation mirrors that of Kevin Durant’s historic performance last night – this is the fifth game in a tied series and a superstar teammate has been ruled out. Durant responded by legendary fashion. Tonight George has the opportunity to do the same and add to his legacy.
Yesterday, Georges said “I don’t look at the minutes. If I could, I would play the 48.
Without Kawhi Leonard, maybe he should.