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The encouraging signs of Kawhi and Paul George's subsequent disillusionment



LOS ANGELES – When the LA Clippers moved heaven and earth last summer to get a pair of the league's deadliest little forwards, the first glimpses of their ugly 107-104 overtime win the Boston Celtics thought. 19659002] In the opening possession of the game, the Celtics decided to trap Paul George in his pick-and-roll with center Ivica Zubac. And why not, George scored an obscene 88 points in 73 minutes in his first three games as a Clipper last week. When George delivered the pass to Zubac, Celtics guard Marcus Smart had to shut down Kawhi Leonard to pick up the big man. Zubac kicked the ball to Leonard, who drained a 3-pointer.

Three properties later, George and Leonard bought the premises. Again, the Celtics were trapping the hand-ball ̵

1; this time, it was Leonard. Smart was stuck between Zubac in the open space and George coming out of the perimeter in the same spot ahead of when Leonard hit a 3-ball. At the moment of the climax, Leonard inserted the ball between the traps with George on the weak side – and George replicated the earlier result from the long range.

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It was a week before Thanksgiving and the Clippers' relentless preseason ended, when Leonard and George finally took the floor as teammates. Their inaugural effort was not a perfect manifestation of symbiosis – at times, it was a slog – which was no surprise for the two players who shared exactly one entire training together, when they were on opposing teams. The Clippers' wings ran a zero pick-and-roll or dribble-handoff together Wednesday, according to Second Spectrum tracking data.

"We need a lot of work, you can see that," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. . "We're trying to get the ball to the boys instead of trying to score."

With 27 minutes Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the floor against the Boston Celtics, the LA Clippers have a net rating of 18.2 points per 100 possessions. Andrew D. Bernstein / NBAE / Getty

If the Clippers appear to be a team that is still recognizable, it is because they are. However the presence of the entire squad as it was built, marked by a cause for delight, was punctuated by a fierce fourth-quarter comeback at Staples Center.

For weeks, Leonard and George were two ships passing through the training room. George missed the preseason and the first 11 games of the regular season while recovering from a pair of shoulder surgeries. The night before George's first game as a Clipper last Thursday in New Orleans, Leonard experienced a collision with his left knee in Houston. When healthy, everyone showed their individual intelligence – Leonard as a bully who could use brute force to make space for any shot, George as a wing with a goal that could score almost anything. offensive capacity.

The fully-established Clippers showed the most promise in the defensive end, where they determined what the fourth-highest NBA rankings were going into Wednesday night almost overnight. The Clippers' track features a platoon of long and agile defenders capable of guarding multiple positions, playing gaps, hitting ball handlers and covering ground on the move.

In fact, the Clippers have the flexibility and confidence to stick 6 -7 Maurice Harkless to the Celtics & # 39; All-NBA point guard Kemba Walker, who knows Patrick Beverley – their own stressful guard – could hold himself against the flailing wings of Boston, and with reliable assistance if necessary. Determined to stop Walker, the Clippers threw traps at him. The Clippers' rotation behind these aggressive attacks is variable – again, not a surprise for units that have not been logged-minutes together – but the Clippers are extremely hostile, lengthy and endowed. of so many savvy veterans, they were able to exercise control control.

Clippers vs. Boston lineups

Team Sea Trees. ] -13 43%
Just George +6 50%
Both Off -1 39%
Source: NBA Advanced Stats

And when the Clippers went along with a closing lineup late in the game by Beverley, Leonard, George, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, they moved against the Celtics' actions. Boston led 86-76 with 6:15 left to play, but the Clippers finished the final 11:15 of the game with a 31-18 run. Out of the two minutes of Harkless's time for situational defense, Rivers teamed up with that team to lead the charge. Angry rallies in the fourth quarter reminiscent of their contented teams of old. Painfully, Leonard and George drew gravity from the Celtics' defense, but it was the owners – Beverley and Williams, in particular – that pushed the Clippers. his efforts, "Rivers said of Beverley, who is a recipient of a rare ball game. Harrell plays. This is one of the league's most dangerous pick-and-roll combos – a tandem that has helped a Clippers in flux to win an unbelievable 48 games last season.So when Williams closed the ball to Harrell, Jayson Tatum had to leave Beverley in the low corner to tag Harrell in the open. space. It left Harrell with an open pocket in the right corner, where he immediately sent Beverley the ball.The Clippers team was building an identity that attracted a pair of top-line superstars. and George the headliners Wednesday, and represent the Clippers' best hope for their first title, however as Beverley released a 3-pointer to seal the win it was spirit of overachievers bringing in the night.


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