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George’s Struggles Continue to Hinder Clippers
The idea of acquiring Paul George in the offseason to form a superstar tandem with 2-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard seemed like a genius move and a recipe for immediate success as the Clippers front office tried to seize an opportunity to get the franchise over the hump. The Clippers have never advanced past the conference semi-finals, and they have high hopes that this is their year to be crowned kings in the Western Conference. Both Leonard and George are very similar players. They both are solid 3 and D guys, both are elite defenders and capable of scoring consistently. While the superstar duo has found success in the regular season, they hoped to continue their winning ways in the postseason but have found themselves struggling in their first-round matchup against the seventh-seeded Dallas Mavericks. Leonard has been his usual consistent self while George has struggled mightily.
George’s points per game have dramatically decreased since the playoffs began. He is averaging a paltry 15.3 PPG as compared to 21.5 PPG during the regular season. During last season’s playoffs as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, George averaged a sensational 28.6 PPG, so we know that he is very capable of getting buckets. His struggles could be attributed to the fact of his responsibility to bring the ball up the floor more as the Clippers are trying to compensate for the injury to Patrick Beverly. George is much more effective playing off the ball, on the elbow or on the wing as he is adept at scoring from the inside or outside the perimeter. George must also assert himself and attack the basket more while trying to get to the foul line. While we know Leonard is the #1 offensive option, George must understand his role and take control of the offense, especially when Leonard goes to the bench, and become the player who can turn this series around for the Clippers.
This is not the scenario the Clippers envisioned when they bought George to Los Angeles, and he has to be the player to take the pressured of Leonard both offensively and on defense. Normally, Beverly would be assigned to guard the Mavericks’ best player in Luka Doncic, but George will have the responsibility of trying to slow him down as Doncic has tortured the Clippers in this series. George is going to have to be the All- NBA caliber defender he is capable of being, and make it a priority to force bad shots and create turnovers for his team. Also, in the event that Leonard must take the initiative in slowing down Doncic, George will have to carry the offense so Leonard won’t expend all of his energy because he will be needed down the stretch if the game goes to the wire. George must find his confidence because the Clippers will be dependent upon him to deliver during key situations over the course of the game.
Blowing 20 point leads and disappearing on the offensive end could spell disaster and eventually end up costing the Clippers the series.
George played well in Game 1 of the series scoring 27 points on 10-22 shooting and knocking down four 3-pointers. It has been all downhill since then as he totaled a combined 34 points while shooting an atrocious 10-47 from the field and an abysmal 4-25 from behind the arc in Games 2,3 and 4.
Look for head coach Doc Rivers to try and adjust his game plan to get George more into the flow of the game because his production is imperative if they look forward to advancing to the 2nd round and beyond.