The LA Clippers need Paul George and Marcus Morris to help out Kawhi Leonard.
After taking a beating in game one, the Denver Nuggets came out in game two with a brand new strategy and took down the LA Clippers, tying the series at one game apiece. Denver formed a wall around Kawhi Leonard and the superstar forward went just 4-17 from the field, scoring only 13 points. If this continues, Paul George and Marcus Morris absolutely have to step up.
Paul George actually did just that in game two to an extent. He didn’t shoot extremely well, going 7-19 (36%) but four of those were three-pointers and helped him to 22 points. If PG can get a few more shots to fall, he can easily open up the offense for Leonard as the defensive focus shifts to him.
This also rings true for Marcus Morris, who unlike George, did not particularly help. He ended the game with 11 points, going 3-9 from the field. However, a couple of those makes didn’t come until late when the Clippers were all but out of the game. Morris was big in the Denver series and needs to have a solid scoring output versus Denver as well.
Yes, the Clippers have other scoring options outside of these three. Lou Williams, Landry Shamet, and Montrezl Harrell could also play better. But there’s a reason I am focused on George and Morris – the fact that they are starters. The Nuggets have dominated the first quarter in both games and in Saturday’s loss, that was all the difference.
Denver blew away the Clippers in the first quarter and LA could never catch up. In fact, the Clips won the second, third, and fourth quarters but still lost the game. That just cannot happen. PG did a good job of staying aggressive in the first quarter but he didn’t look particularly hot. Meanwhile, Morris was a non-factor.
If that happens, Denver can continue to key on Leonard. If both can get going early, the Clippers become impossible to defend, especially for the Nuggets who don’t have the best defensive wings in the league. Both George and Morris should look for their shots early and often, perhaps by attacking the rim. Nikola Jokic will be there waiting but their quickness could lead to him getting into foul trouble early, which would be an added bonus.
If both George and Morris can step up their games compared to game two, the results will be less like that game’s outcome and more similar to what happened in game one. The Clippers cannot afford to go down 2-1 in this series, so expect both to be aggressive from the tip.