LA Clippers: Paul George emerging at the perfect time

LA Clippers (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LA Clippers (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The LA Clippers’ star small forward is heating up in the NBA bubble as the team prepares to make a run at the 2020 NBA Finals.

Some players can elevate their game to another level when the competition is stiffest.

That’s a defining trait that separates the good from the great in sports, and LA Clippers’ small forward Paul George has that gift.

The Clippers as a team have only played a few meaningful games in the NBA’s bubble environment so far, but PG-13 has made them count.

In the team’s loss to the LA Lakers on July 30, their first game back in action since the season was suspended in the middle of March, George was prolific, posting 30 points and shooting 11 for 17 from the field.

He also shot 6 for 11 from three point range to go with five rebounds and three assists.

George was the best player on the court for the Clippers on opening night in the bubble and that speaks volumes, especially when reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who also had a good game, is your teammate.

“Young Trece”, as he’s sometimes called, followed that performance up with 28 more points against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, shooting 8 for 17 from the field and 8 for 11 from three.

Paul George is a quintessential NBA two way player, as someone who racks up points being an efficient scorer, while also providing stifling defense as one of the game’s premier defenders.

He was already having a great year before the extended pause, notching season highs in three point percentage (41.4%) and field goal percentage (43.8%), not to mention his 21.3 points per game average.

All of that said, the one dark cloud over his otherwise great career thus far has been his health, which considering his injury history, is always a relevant concern.

The temporary absences of starters Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams make it that much more imperative that George continue his high level of play in the bubble.

It’s a good thing this is the part of the season where PG-13 happens to excel the most.

George didn’t earn the moniker “Playoff P” for nothing. In 76 career playoff games, George has averaged 20.1 points per game, shooting 36 percent from three and 42 percent from the field.

If not for LeBron James’ Eastern Conference dominance for most of the past decade, it’s possible George could have made at least one Finals appearance with his original team, the Indiana Pacers.

With not much other talent on those Pacer teams, that would’ve been all the more impressive for PG’s ledger.

George continued to make good on his playoff nickname with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season.

Though OKC would lose in the first round of the 2018-19 playoffs in six games to the Utah Jazz, “Young Trece” averaged a ludicrous 28.6 points per game on 44 percent shooting in those games.

It’s that kind of elite production in high pressure situations that the Clippers paid for last off-season when they gave George a max contract in free agency.

If the first few games in the bubble have given the team any indication of what to expect from Paul George as they get ready to make a run at the franchise’s first ever Larry O’Brien trophy, it appears as though Playoff P has made an early arrival.

That could mean big things for the Clippers. The rest of the league should be on notice.