Heading into the Game 5 against the Mavericks, Clippernation held their breath hoping Paul George would snap out of his shooting funk, talented sophomore guard Luka Doncic would be held in check, and LA would regain control of the series. All played in the Clippers favor gaining a 3-2 lead in a lopsided 154-111 victory over Dallas.
The Clippers made a statement Tuesday night writing themselves in the history books as the first team in NBA history to score 150+ points on 60+ field goal and three-point percentage.
“We did a lot of things well today,” said Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers. “We just played together. We played hard. We were aggressive. And more importantly, like it is a human game and you make mistakes, but we just had so few game plan mistakes that I thought it was awesome.”
Paul George had his best performance of the playoffs scoring a game-high 35 points in just 25 minutes. Kawhi Leonard kept his hot hand cooking scoring 32 points along with 7 rebounds in 30 minutes. Clippers big man Montrezl Harrell had his best overall performance of the playoffs with 19 points and 11 rebounds after missing an extended amount of time in the bubble to be by his grandmother’s side who sadly passed away just days before the playoffs began.
Eyes set on Thursday. pic.twitter.com/X0BNvyvz6s
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) August 26, 2020
George was struggling immensely in the bubble entering tonight’s showdown and was candid about being in a ‘dark place’. “I underestimated mental health, honestly,” said George. “I had anxiety, a little bit of depression. Just being locked in here. I just wasn’t there. I checked out. Games 2, 3, 4, I felt like I wasn’t there.”
“[Paul George] and I sat in my room after [game 4]. We just had a long talk, not all about basketball really. Several players did it. Guys were knocking on his door,” said Rivers on how the uplifting team comradery helped the resurgence of Paul George.
In Game 4 the Clippers fell victim to Dallas Mavericks sensation Luka Doncic’s buzzer-beating step-back three-pointer tying the series at 2 games apiece. LA’s defense came out prepared to silence the 21-year old Slovenian with a terrific defense limiting Doncic’s eccentric scoring ability to 22 points on 6 of 17 shooting.
The game planning of assistant coaches was praised by Doc postgame. “I thought Rex and Ty, both of them just did a terrific job game planning and mixing it up,” said Rivers. “We didn’t just have one coverage, which I thought was important.”
The Clippers bench was lively from the opening tip bringing enough energy filling the void of 20,000 fans at Staples Center. LA closed the quarter shooting 65% up 41-22 and never looked back the rest of the way. The intensity remained even without 20,000 screaming fans with 6 technical fouls distributed throughout the game. With 6:42 left in the 3rd quarter, Dallas Mavericks Head Coach Rick Carlise was tossed from the game for passionately arguing a call with the refs.
The tragic shooting of 29-year old African American Jacob Blake has been the discussion at hand in the NBA bubble. Doc Rivers and Paul George stated how extremely frustrated they are with the social injustice that continues to happen every day in America.
“I didn’t want to talk about it before the game because it’s so hard, like, to just keep watching it. That video, if you watch that video, you don’t need to be black to be outraged. You need to be American and outraged,” said Doc Rivers.
“It’s sad. You know, it’s sad. Another one. This is America. Unless people decide to do the right thing. This is America. We got to stand by all. We need our allies to stand with us. This is what’s going on. This is what’s happening. It’s still happening. Even after what happened with George Floyd,” said Paul George.
Game 6 will take place on Thursday with the Clippers looking to close out the series against the Mavericks at 6 PM on ESPN.