The Los Angeles Clippers are concerned that they could miss out on the playoffs following the right leg injury suffered by their leading scorer and shooting guard Paul George against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Paul George, the guard of the Los Angeles Clippers, is seen here clutching his right leg after suffering an injury against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Crypto.com Arena in downtown L.A. (Image: USA Today Sports)
The incident occurred with less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter when George jumped for a rebound and collided with Lu Dort from the Thunder. Both players collided knees in mid-air before landing on the hardwood.
George stayed on the court for several minutes and had to be helped to the locker room.
Kawhi Leonard, George’s teammate, told the L.A. Times, “I didn’t see the play, and thought he just got hit in the face at the time.”
Without George in the last few minutes, the Clippers were unable to close out the game, losing to the Thunder 101-100.
George will be undergoing an MRI on Wednesday to determine the extent of his injury and how many games he will have to miss.
The Clippers are currently 38-35 and would be the fifth seed in the playoffs if the season ended today. However, the back end of the Western Conference standings is crowded with eight teams that are only 2.5 games apart.
With nine games left in the season, the Clippers haven’t secured a playoff spot yet. If George is unable to play, the Clippers could drop into the Western Conference Play-In Tournament. According to FiveThirtyEight, the Clippers could also miss the playoffs completely with a 22% probability.
Another Unfortunate Injury for George
George spent a considerable amount of time on the sidelines last season due to a right elbow injury, appearing in only 31 games during 2021-22. He suffered a partial tear in his shooting arm’s ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) but decided to let the ligament heal itself instead of opting for surgery. The elbow injury happened in a game against the Portland Trail Blazers when George dove for a loose ball and Portland’s 7-foot-2 center Jusuf Nurkic landed on George’s right arm.
George looked like his old self after his right elbow was fully healed during the offseason. Over the course of 56 games this season, he averaged 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He also improved his overall shooting stats, with 45.7% from the floor, 37.1% from 3-point range, and 87.1% from the free-throw line.
George is no stranger to injuries. In the 2014-15 season, he missed 76 games for the Indiana Pacers after suffering a compound fracture in his right leg in a scrimmage with Team USA for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
The Clippers are currently short of personnel with swingman Norman Powell nursing a shoulder injury. Powell is the team’s third leading scorer with 16.6 points per game, and it is hoped he can return either this weekend or early next week.
Coach Ty Lue could potentially insert backup Terance Mann into the starting lineup in place of George. Mann has started 35 games this season and has averaged 8.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. He is also shooting 38.6% from 3-point range.
Did The Curse of the Clippers Resurface?
There is a small group of fans who believe that the Clippers are jinxed and will remain the City of Angels’ second team behind the more popular L.A. Lakers.
The Clippers had a difficult time during the 2010s and were unable to reach the Western Conference Finals, always getting knocked out in the conference semifinals or suffering a first-round upset. Fans and local media attributed these playoff woes over the last decade to the “Curse of the Clippers.”
Two postseasons ago, the Clippers finally made it past the hump. Led by George and Leonard, the Clippers advanced to the 2021 Western Conference Finals for the first time.
Fans thought that the curse had been lifted until George was injured on Tuesday night. Some superstitious fans were quick to associate the return of the curse.
Futures Market Reacts to the Clippers
In January, the Clippers had a poor run of form, going 2-9 and falling below .500 with a 23-24 record. However, they headed into the All-Star break with a 33-28 record after a five-game winning streak.
Following the break, the Clippers lost five games in a row, including two back-to-back overtime games, and their record dropped to 33-33. They