National Basketball Association

'Undisputed' crew reveals confidence levels in Paul George ahead of NBA playoffs

May 6

The NBA playoff picture is beginning to round into shape, with tickets being punched and seeding battles heating up.

Over in the Western Conference, four teams have locked down playoff spots ahead of Thursday's slate of NBA games.

One of those playoff-bound squads, the LA Clippers, ended a three-game losing streak with a crucial win against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. 

Paul George led the way for the Clippers, tying the team high with 22 points while grabbing eight rebounds and dishing four assists.

His running mate, Kawhi Leonard, spoke with Shaquille O'Neal on the "NBA on TNT" postgame show and touched on how the Clippers are using the final two weeks of the season to gear up for the postseason.

In this past season's playoffs, the Clippers lost to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals in gut-wrenching fashion.

After taking a 3-1 series lead against the Nuggets, the Clippers blew the series, which culminated in a 104-89 blowout loss in Game 7.

Following that playoff exit, George drew attention when he told the media 2020 wasn't a "championship or bust year for us."

Those comments, combined with a zero-point fourth-quarter performance in the Game 7 loss, didn't sit well with many pundits.

But George has had an interesting relationship when it comes to the playoffs.

In his nine trips to the postseason ⁠— six with the Indiana Pacers, two with the Oklahoma City Thunder and one with the Clippers ⁠— he's 41-48 overall and has made the conference finals just twice.

The man they call "Playoff P" is capable of going off one night and then laying an egg the next. For instance, he has 42 playoff games where he's scored fewer than 20 points and 47 games where he's hit for 20 or more points.

And when the pressure is ratcheted up in win-or-go-home contests, George averages 16.2 points per game ⁠— well below his career playoff average of 20.1 points per game.

Still, the 31-year-old is one of the most feared players in the NBA, especially with the efficiency at which he's playing this season.

For the year, he's shooting 47.0% from the field and 41.8% from distance, both of which are career highs.

He's also been a more willing distributor, averaging a career-high in assists with 5.2 per game.

The question heading into the playoffs is: Which George will show up for the Clippers?

On a scale of one to 10, Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe discussed their confidence levels in the seven-time All-Star on Thursday's episode of "Undisputed," and Sharpe is not convinced that George will be delivering the goods come playoff time.

"We've seen this. People make it seem like we have not seen Paul George play exemplary in the regular season, only to follow that up with some bull jive come postseason. … I've seen this movie the last six years. I've seen one, two, three. It's like a ‘Fast & Furious.’ They're up to nine now, I already know how it's going to end."

Bayless had much more faith in George, citing the Clippers star's more mature demeanor this season.

"He looks like he's grown up before my eyes. He looks like this has forced him, forged him, into becoming a man. … That's a new guy. I do trust him. I'm an eight, on a scale of [one to 10]."

It'll still be a few weeks until we find out whether or not George carries his outstanding regular season into the postseason.

In the meantime, the Clippers are focused on improving their seeding and possibly leapfrogging the Nuggets for the No. 3 seed, or better.

That quest continues on Thursday night, as the Clippers host the LeBron James-less Los Angeles Lakers at 10 p.m. ET.

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