Will things be different for the Los Angeles Clippers in the postseason this year? Several of the team’s core players sure think so, and Paul George is chief among them.
George, who coined himself ‘Playoff P’ when playing lights out for the Thunder in the first round of the 2018 playoffs, has faltered in the postseason since, with his most notoriously bad series coming against the Dallas Mavericks last year. George shot an abysmal 35.8 percent from the floor, which was the lowest shooting percentage on the team in the series by far, and he finished the series averaging 18.5 points a game (his season average was 21.5).
The Clips face the Mavs again in the first round this year, but George laid out why he thinks things will be different for him on the court and off.
“I think this year it’s been easier because I have outlets,” George said, per ESPN. “You know, I’m able to live a normal life. I can go home, I can see my family, I can spend time with my family, I can interact with other people outside of this team. And so that alone has just been a big difference to be back to some normalcy. It’s a big difference from the bubble life to where I’m at now from a headspace standpoint.”
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George Battled Depression & Anxiety in the Bubble Last Year
The Clippers superstar was open about his struggles being isolated from loved ones while in the NBA bubble last year, and he admitted that he didn’t feel like himself in the first round series against Dallas.
“I underestimated mental health, honestly. I had anxiety. A little bit of depression. Just being locked in here. I just wasn’t there. I checked out,” George told ESPN last year. “Games 2, 3, 4, I wasn’t there. I felt like I wasn’t there. Shout-out to the people that were in my corner, that gave me words. They helped big time, help get me right, [get] me back in great spirits. I can’t thank them enough.”
George enters the upcoming series against the Mavs well-rested and ready to go — and his teammates also seem to be feeling pretty good about where they’re at heading into the playoffs.
George’s Teammates Say Clippers Are Better Equipped This Year
The Clippers, who have yet to win an NBA championship, are looking to finally get over that hump. Several of their key players seem to think they can. “Whole different team, different coaching staff,” Clippers forward Marcus Morris said. “Energy’s a lot better. The camaraderie’s a lot better. Everybody wants to be here. Everybody is playing their role the right way and we all have one goal and we are all committed to it.”
“I feel good. I feel confident, like any other year,” superstar forward Kawhi Leonard added. “I feel like we got a good team. We got some depth on us. It’s just about between the ears now. How much are we willing to sacrifice to get a win? How much of our mind and body are we going to put into these playoffs? That’s where I’m at. Like I said, I’m confident in this unit.”
George also noted that the Clips’ early exit in the semifinals last year gave them a tad more motivation this season. “[Last year’s finish] was the motivation enough needed coming into this season,” George said. “I needed to be better and up to this point, it’s just being who I am and being who I been.”