In response to Marcus slandering my name (see two posts below), this is what is in front of Paul George with the elimination game. The issues with George have little to do with the bubble struggles and everything to do with his bubble struggles spotlighting a consistent problem with him in pressure moments over his career. The problem? He’s usually awful in games where his team faces elimination.
Let’s start with 2017, the year before George dubbed himself “Playoff P” and none of his teammates knew what he was talking about. In PG’s last game as an Indiana Pacer, he shot just 5 of 21 from the field en route to 15 points as his team got swept by LeBron James and Cleveland. But that’s just because he didn’t have enough help, right?
Let’s go to the Playoff P era with his new OKC Thunder teammates against the Utah Jazz squad they dismissed. Down 3-2 in the series and hoping to force a Game 7, PG shot 2 of 16 from the field for five points. He had six turnovers in that game as Joe Ingles locked him up. The next year? He put up an impressive 36 points on 14-of-20 shooting. But he also got sent home on the infamous Damian Lillard shot and then claimed it was a bad shot instead of just taking the loss.
In the bubble, he and his Clippers teammates combined for blowing a 3-1 series lead. It culminated with the Game 7 loss in which George shot 4 of 16 from the field and turned it over five times. Once again, more turnovers than made shots.
Game 7 against Dallas this year? He shot 5 of 15 from the field and nearly matched his made shots with turnovers (four). Thanks to Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers were dragged to the second round.
To PG’s credit and Marcus’ point, he’s been phenomenal for most of the run since Leonard went down in the Utah series. But he’s also a big reason they trail in this series 3-2 instead of leading it — thanks to clutch missed free throws in Game 2 and a 5-of-20 shooting night in Game 4.
George is headed on the right path for fixing his reputation. But for most of his career, it’s been a coin flip in elimination games of whether or not he can even finish the game with more field goal makes than turnovers. Hopefully for the Clippers, he continues this good run, and they extend their season to another elimination game.
Thompson: All jokes aside, I remember that 2-for-16 game, Zach. It was arguably more brutal than any of his bubble performances. I just hope — for the sake of us PG believers — he doesn’t take the podium! His own words have hurt him more than any poor shooting night has.