The rumors were true. The moment all Los Angeles Clippers’ fans were waiting for finally happened. The team’s dynamic duo, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George made their season debut together in tonight’s victory over the Boston Celtics, 104-107.
Before tonight, the Clippers had yet to compete with their entire roster as George was out for the first 11 games of the season due to surgery in both of his shoulders and Leonard was out for the past three consecutive games due to a left knee contusion.
Having PG-13 and The Klaw take the court together was bound to get scary. PG is a six-time NBA All Star, four-time member of the NBA All-Defensive Team and an Olympic Gold Medalist. Leonard on the other hand is the reigning Finals MVP, a three-time All Star, two-time Defensive Player of they Year, and has won two NBA Championships. While playing without George for nine games, Leonard averaged 26.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, six assists and was shooting 44% from the field. George played three games without the Klaw and averaged 29.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and was shooting 56% from the field.
PG-13 and the Klaw
Before tonight’s game George sent out a warning to all other competitors about Leonard’s return. He said, “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.”
Teams have played against the Clippers before but not with their dynamic duo. Both players pose a threat to their competitors and have been double teamed during games but teams had not been presented with the challenge to guard both PG and The Klaw at the same time.
Leonard hit the first three of the game and on the next offensive play made a pass to PG who hit another three, proving early on in the game that they they would be hard to guard defensively.
The Los Angeles Clippers vs The Boston Celtics
The Clippers closed out the first half trailing the Celtics by two, 42-40. The team struggled offensively, especially late in the second quarter as they turned the ball over six out of their last seven possessions. Fortunately for the Clippers, the Celtics had troubles shooting from beyond the three making only 1/18.
Going into the third quarter the team continued to tack on turnovers ending the quarter with 17. George closed out the third with 20 points, four rebounds and two assists while Leonard ended the quarter with 13 points, five rebounds and two assists. The team failed to find momentum and trailed the Celtics by six points, 75-69. Celtics Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown went into the fourth with a combined 3 of 19 from the field for 10 points.
Eight seconds into the fourth, the Clippers still struggled to find rhythm and made yet another turnover. It wasn’t until late in the fourth that the team picked up their game as they went on a 10-0 run to take a 97-94 lead. With only 13.1 seconds left in the fourth, Jayson Tatum pushed off of George who was guarding him and hit a three to tie the game, 97-97. With only a few seconds remaining Leonard made an attempt at a three but unfortunately hit iron making the game go into overtime.
With only 43.4 seconds left in overtime Montrezl Harrell made a pass to Patrick Beverley who had a wide open look and hit a three to create more of a lead, 102-107. The Clippers ended the game strong and earned victory over the Celtics, 104-107.