The Clippers could get one of their two stars back Tuesday. But, if not then, soon.
Paul George was upgraded and is officially listed as questionable for when the Clippers host the Jazz on Tuesday night. He has gone through a couple of practices with the team, including one Monday, and if his return is not against Utah it is likely this week, reports Farbod Esnaashari.
George has been out since Christmas when he suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. His return would be a huge boost for a Clippers team that has lost five in a row. When asked whether his Clippers are starting to run out of gas, coach Tyronn Lue responded:
“It looks like it, don’t it? Looks like it a little bit, yeah.”
George, a six-time All-NBA player, averaged 24.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game in 26 games earlier in the season. With Kawhi Leonard out — there is still no official word on his possible return this season, but why bring back George of Leonard isn’t returning? — George was the fulcrum of the Clippers’ offense plus drew key defensive assignments.
The Clippers are headed to the play-in, basically locked into the No. 8 seed in the West. That means they need to win one of two games to advance to the playoffs, first playing the Timberwolves (potentially the Nuggets could fall into that slot, but it’s not likely). The winner of that game advances as the No. 7 seed to face the Grizzlies. If the Clippers lost, they would host a second game against the winner of the 9/10 matchup, between two of the Pelicans, Lakers and Spurs. The winner of that second game faces the Phoenix Suns in the first round.
George makes the Clippers far more likely to win one of the play-in games and a much tougher out in the playoffs.