The Los Angeles Clippers have had a tumultuous season with injuries to their two best players: Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Despite this, the Clippers are still in the hunt for a play-in spot. Now, their odds of making the NBA Playoffs have gotten better with George back on the floor. In his first game back, George sparked a massive comeback against the Utah Jazz. PG put the team on his back with a total of 34 points in the 121-115 win.
Paul George Injury
Paul George suffered a UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) injury back in December. It was announced on Christmas Day by the team that George would be sidelined for multiple weeks going forward. The best case scenario was that PG would be able to come back by the end of the season. That is what happened thankfully and it is already paying dividend for the Los Angeles Clippers. Going forward, expect a little bit of a minutes restriction for Paul George. This is not due to any potential setbacks, but rather it would be expected of the Clippers to be cautious with the injury luck they have had this season.
Paul George Returns from Injury vs the Jazz
The Los Angeles Clippers have been in dire need for at least one of their alpha’s to return for a while. Paul George returned right on cue as they battled a reeling Utah Jazz team. A team who has now slipped down to fifth place in the Western Conference standings. As for Los Angeles, they find themselves still firmly in the eight spot. They are looking more and more like a favorite to advance past the play-in tournament. The return of one of their star players increased the odds of that happening as Paul George looked 100 percent healthy in a big statement game.
It was not just the 34 points on 50 percent shooting from the field that was impressive after so much time off. He also got his teammates involved adding six assists as well. The cherry on top was his defensive prowess as he collected four steals and a blocked shot. Perhaps his two most impressive plays from the night were a pick-pocket of Mike Conley in the first quarter and blocking a put-back attempt from Rudy Gobert. If you are surprised by this, you should not be. This was the type of efficiency PG was playing with at the start of the year before his injury.
Will George’s Return Make an Impact for the Clippers?
Many people forget that George was in the MVP conversation at the beginning of the season and with good reason. His totals for the year speak for themselves. PG is averaging 25.0 points, 5.5 assists, and 6.9 rebounds per game to go along with an effective field goal percentage of 49.0 percent. For context, Kevin Durant, who is also in the MVP race, has averaged comparable numbers of 29.7 points, 6.1 assists, and 7.3 rebounds per game this year.
With Paul George back now, the Los Angeles Clippers have now become the wild card in the West. They may be a play-in team. However, with one of their stars back now, they can compete with any squad in the league. The Clippers are well coached by Ty Lue. They also have a solid supporting cast around PG and Kawhi with the likes of Reggie Jackson and Ivanca Zubac. Finally, the Clippers possess a nice bench with Terrence Mann and Luke Kennard coming off of it.
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