By Shreyan Gorantala
The Los Angeles Clippers are debatably the best team in their conference and one of the best in the entire NBA. They improved their future massively, getting one top ten player Paul George from OKC Thunder (Oklahoma City Thunder) and finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. These two players switched up the conference completely, putting them in second place from barely coming to the playoffs and losing the first round the past 5 seasons.
The Los Angeles Clippers acquired the 6 – time NBA All Star and a debatable top ten player on the 10th of July 2019. He was traded for Shai- Gilgeous Alexander and PF(power forward)/SF (small forward) Italian basketball player Danilo Gallinari. They also traded their first round picks (picks a player picked for people who entered or accepted the NBA from college) in 2022, 2024, and 2026.
The Clippers coach, Doc Rivers, had high expectations for this star player, and he proved it scoring high numbers in his games. Although that stopped as the Coronavirus hit the entire world. After further discussion the NBA decided to resume it on July 30th 2020, but looked different as the NBA created a bubble where there were only 22 teams, 3 Disney hotels where all the teams stayed in named The Yacht Club, The Gran Destino, and Grand Floridian Resort. Lastly, for many teams there was no home court advantage except for Orlando as it was held in The Amway Center ( Orlando Magic’s home court).
After that Paul George had lost his form and didn’t play upto mark, putting in low scoring points and barely any assists. Although for that, the Clippers had hoped that this would soon go away and he would perform well going into the playoff and that was one of his start moments where he would shine. But, that did not go too well either as the first games he played a decent game and not what he was expected to. He still played well in 2 games in the first round playoff , where he got 27 points in the first game and 35 in the fifth. The fifth game was where the Clippers took the advantage as Kristaps Porzingis got injured and gave up playing in the playoff games.The Clippers passed the highest playoff scoring of and got a massive 154 points winning by 43 points. The Clippers got past a tough Dallas Mavericks edging 4-2 with 2 stars, Luka Doncic, and Kristaps Prozingis by giving a huge thank you to ‘The Klaw’ Kawhi leanord (traded from the Raptors this season) as he carried the team on to the victory over Dallas Mavericks.
Paul George had finally shown why he is a top ten player and why he was traded to the Clippers, scoring 2 decent games and then in the 3rd game getting 32 points against the Denver Nuggets as it was his time to shine and Kawhi reduced his points. In the post-game interview Paul George mentioned that it took a bit more time for him to adjust to this pandemic, and leave his beloved family. He also mentioned that he was grateful for his teammates and coach for believing and helping him go through this. Lastly, ending it for all the questions the basketball fans had he added that he has adjusted to this and is now handling it well and feels closer to being home by fishing and spending time with his girlfriend Daniela Rajic, giving cheers to all the Clippers fans. This interview gave hope to all Clippers fans that Paul George will play exceptionally well and the trading and giving up their first round picks were worth it.
Yet again, in the fourth game, of the second round series, the odds turned against him as Paul George only managed to slip in 10 points in the 27 minutes he played, getting 4 personal fouls, only two less to send him out of the game. Doc Rivers was very unhappy with Paul George’s performance in the last couple of games. Yet again it was left to ‘The Big Hands’ Kawhi Leonard as he shifted the game scoring 30 points marking a win. The score is now 3 -1 and the Clippers fans need Paul to get back on track as they have never reached their conference finals needing only 1 more win to make history this season. Although they are an inch closer to registering a spot in the finals, Rivers is still focused on making sure to get passed this round without the next in mind. In a post-game interview, Rivers mentioned that he is still a bit shaky about this round as Denver could surprise us as they did with Donnovan Matchell and the Utah jazz trailing the same score last series, and need their star players to perform and play upto mark, or they could lose the series and turn the odds from being the favourites to win.