At first, it looked like a straight-up insult. Clippers star Paul George offered up his jersey to be swapped with that of Mavericks star Luka Doncic in the wake of the Clippers’ impressive Game 7 demolition of Dallas at Staples Center, only to have Doncic apparently blow him off.
While that seemed to play into the narrative that has emerged for Paul George over the length of his recent playoff career—nothing, it seems, goes right for George at this time of year—Doncic quelled the raft of online speculation immediately after the game. Turns out, he just did not want to enact an exchange right there on the floor.
“Yeah,” Doncic said when asked about the jersey swap, “we did exchange one after, in the locker room.”
That was not quite the portrayal the interaction got at first, as most assumed the worst on George’s end.
George’s Playoff Struggles Continue
Indeed, it was another stellar performance from Doncic in Game 7, as he went for 46 points on 17-for-30 shooting, with 14 assists and seven rebounds. That ran his series scoring average to 35.7 points with 10.3 assists.
George, on the other hand, topped the 20-point mark for the seventh straight game, but struggled with his shooting badly. George shot well in the first three games against Dallas, but over the final four games, he shot 39.3% from the field and made only 30.6% of his 3-pointers over the entire series.
George did have 10 assists, which, he said, helped contribute to the Clippers’ speed advantage.
“I think contributed to I think our pace,” George said. “I think we played faster. You know, that was really the key, just our pace, moving the ball. We got guys great shots, great looks. You know, they got the big fellas out there. We’ve got to force them to try to contain the ball instead of just sitting in the paint clogging it up, and so I thought our pace was everything. We played faster.”
Doncic Established NBA Game 7 Record
Certainly, when it comes to jersey swaps, it’s clear why George might like to lock down one of Doncic’s jerseys. This is the second straight year the Clippers have faced Dallas in the first round of the playoffs, and Doncic was essentially the only reason the Mavs had a chance to pull off the upset.
Doncic had three 40-point games, plus a 39-pointer, in the series. His points, plus the points her created with his passing, totaled 77, which was the most ever in a Game7, according to Elias Sports (via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon).
“He played off the charts last year in the playoffs,” George said. “And to be honest, you don’t get to age like that — you knew he could get better, you knew there was room for improvement, of course, but it was even more awesome. He just plays with so much confidence, and his game is just so beyond his age. He pretty much can pick up and read almost any defense. We threw a lot at him, and he was still able to, you know, keep his team afloat and just improvise.
“He’s going to be great. He’s got a big, huge future ahead of him. But you know, I think just the mindset of having to sit down and guard, help, rotate came into play again this series and it’s definitely what we are going to have to do going into the next one.”