The Los Angeles Clippers faced off against the Utah Jazz in a pivotal Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Wednesday night. Kawhi Leonard was ruled out with a knee injury, putting pressure on Paul George to become the leader his team needed to defeat the first-place Jazz. The years of disappointment in the postseason and the irony of his Playoff P nickname hung in the air throughout the game. Many believed the Clippers were done once Leonard fell to injury. George is undoubtedly one of the best players in the league, but he has had a tendency of disappearing in the playoffs.
Los Angeles played Game 5 on the road, making the matchup even more difficult for Paul George and the Clippers. However, by the end of the night, Los Angeles secured its third win in the series, 119-111, taking a 3-2 lead in the process. Much of the credit can go to Playoff P as he carried the Clippers to victory.
The Clippers are now just one game away from advancing to the Western Conference Finals, and all they need is one more spectacular performance from George. The haters were silenced on Wednesday night and would be vanquished even further by making history and taking LA to a never-before-seen place.
1. Paul George put the team on his back
Not only did he lead his team to victory, but Paul George also led his team in points (37), rebounds, (16), and assists (5) to carry them to the promised land. He was an absolute monster on the court Wednesday night, showing the world he’s much more than Kawhi Leonard’s sidekick. He scored 30 points through three quarters and then came up with some big plays down the stretch to help seal the win. The star set the tone early with aggressive offense and kept it up throughout the night.
The 37-16-5 stat line was enough to stun the Jazz at home. He did have some help from his teammates, though, as both Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris dropped 22+ each. Even so, without George’s monster performance, LA would be down 3-2 in the series. After Wednesday night, it might be time to move to a new chapter in George’s career.
2. The defensive anchor
Not only did George light it up from the field, but he played sound defense as well. He served as the Clippers’ defensive anchor in Game 5, as the high scorer for Utah was Bojan Bogdanović, who dropped 32 on the night. The rest of the Jazz, however, failed to match Bodganović’s scoring prowess, as Donovan Mitchell finished the evening with the second-most points for Utah, recording just 21 points.
The Clippers as a whole showed the world why they’re one of the best defensive teams, and it started with the leadership and performance from Paul George. Between George’s two blocks and the team’s combined 11 steals, the Clippers proved to be too much for the Jazz to handle. Don’t forget about George’s 13 defensive rebounds, as he stepped up for the smaller Clippers on the boards in a big way.
Playoff P has officially arrived
After putting on a performance like that, it’s safe to say Playoff P has officially arrived. This is the version of Paul George the Clippers need to win a championship. Another performance like that and the Clippers will go up against the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals.
With that said, that is exactly what needs to happen for the haters to completely go away. Can George perform like that again? He has hit the 30-point mark in three consecutive games, so he’s finding that consistency that has eluded him so often in the playoffs.