When the Los Angeles Clippers acquired Paul George via trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder and signed reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard who was in free agency, the team immediately became legitimate title contenders.
To start off the season, George was out due to surgery in both of his shoulders for the first 11 games. The team didn’t struggle too much without him as they still had Leonard to carry the team. The Clippers went 7-4 without George while Leonard was averaging 26.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and six assists per game. On George’s highly anticipated debut, the Clippers fell short to the New Orleans Pelicans as it was PG’s first game back and Leonard was out due to load management. PG still put on a show with 33 points, nine rebounds and four assists in just over 24 minutes. He was 10-17 from the field, 3-5 from the 3-point and 10-10 on his free throws.
Upon George’s debut The Klaw was out for three consecutive games due to a left knee contusion. Without the reigning NBA Finals MVP, PG-13 averaged 29.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and was shooting 56% from the field. When the two made their debut together it was bound to get scary as they are both elite players that pose a serious threat to their competitors.
The team’s dynamic duo made their debut against the Boston Celtics and took the dub, 107-104. Since Leonard and George’s debut, the team has played three games together and have gone undefeated. The team has now proved that they have what it takes to go all the way as they are currently riding a five-game winning streak and have set a franchise-best at home, 11-1. They are now third in the Western Conference with the record, 12-5.
Clippers’ Dynamic Duo
Prior to Leonard and George’s first time playing together, PG sent out a warning to all of the team’s competitors.
“You can’t shrink the floor when you got me, Lou [Williams], Kawhi, Trezz,” George said per ESPN. “You just can’t shrink the floor. There is no way that guys can take themselves out of the play defensively and try to face-guard. You just can’t do that because Lou, Kawhi or myself — whoever is getting that type of defense — we are going to pick you apart and make plays offensively.”
Against the Celtics, Leonard finished the game with 17 points, three assists and six rebounds, while George tacked on 25 points, eight assists and five rebounds. Next, the Clippers went up against the Houston Rockets on Friday for a rematch as they lost to them earlier in the season, 102-93. This time with the Clippers’ full roster they were able to defeat the Rockets in a thrilling game, 122-119. With 15 seconds left in the game, Leonard scored on a pull up jumper to edge over the Rockets, 120-119. PG scored the last two points of the game off two free throws to end the game in victory 122-119. Last night the Clippers played against the Pelicans, who served them their last L five games ago. This time, the Pelicans’ defense was no match for the team’s dynamic duo as they were defeated, 134-109.
“It’s been great. We’re still trying to figure it out. In terms of the plays, and playing off of each other. It’s been good so far, we’ve been winning,” Leonard said in a post game interview posted by Farbod Esnaashari of Forbes.
The team will now set out on a three-game road trip against the Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, and San Antonio Spurs.