LA Clippers: Paul George destined for heated WCF vs. Devin Booker

Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) shoots the ball against Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1). Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) shoots the ball against Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1). Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Western Conference has already started hot between the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers and the second-seeded Phoenix Suns.

Clippers guard/forward Paul George has shown his leadership and ability to carry the team without the presence of the injured Kawhi Leonard. He is showing his all-star abilities in a showdown for the ages against Suns shooting guard Devin Booker.

Even if LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard and Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul return during this best-of-seven series, the Western Conference Finals will be a heated duel between Paul and Booker.

During the regular season, the LA Clippers and Phoenix Suns showed their grit and their tenacity. The regular season has also shown that George and Booker do not like each other. Multiple confrontations during plays and after the whistle between the two stars have created a new rivalry between the two Pacific Divisional teams.

The Clippers won two of the three games against the Suns. In those three games, George was the leading playmaker for Los Angeles. George has averaged 32.3 points per game by shooting 56.3% of field goals (36-of-64), 60.7% from the three-point arc (17-of-28), and 80% from the free-throw line (8-of-10) this regular season against the Suns.

He was the team’s leading scorer in all three games. George has also shown to be a more aggressive defender against the Suns, especially Booker averaging 6.7 rebounds per game, 2.3 steals per game, and five personal fouls per game. When asked to rise to the occasion against a dynamic, young scorer like Booker, George has stepped up significantly.

In the regular season against the Clippers, Booker averaged 23.3 points per game by shooting 48.9% of field goals (22-of-45) and 82.8% from the free-throw line (24-of-29). Booker has been an electrifying player, but he hasn’t taken the team as a leader until this postseason. Booker has averaged 29 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game, and 5.4 assists per game in this postseason.

On the other side, George has played his best playoff basketball since he was with the Indiana Pacers. In 14 games this postseason, George has averaged 26.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and one steal per game. In the three games without Leonard, George lived in the moment and helped the Clippers to their first-ever Western Conference Finals appearance.

Without Leonard, George has averaged 33 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game, 5.7 assists per game, two steals per game, and 1.3 blocks per game. He is +29 on the court by shooting 44.4% from field goals, 41.4% from the three-point arc, and 88.5% from the free-throw line. George has also remained an aggressive and sound defender for the Clippers.

If Paul finds his way back from COVID protocols for the Suns and Leonard gets back on the court after rehabbing his knee, this series will still be George vs. Booker. This series will be another tremendous legacy booster for George if he can outduel Booker, who’s playing as the main ballhandler without Paul, and win a best-of-seven series.

This series will not be easy for George and the Clippers as they are down 0-1 with game two happening tonight. They will have to be worried about potential fatigue, making the proper rotations, and handling bad shooting nights. There is serious optimism, however, as they have shown twice that they can readjust in the playoffs.

Next. It was a long road, but it was worth the wait. dark

This series is just beginning for George and the Clippers as they continue to chase history and get rid of the Clippers’ postseason curse, as well as the negative perspective from casual NBA fans. George has shown that he isn’t a sidekick, but he will look to be a championship winner by knocking out his heated rival in Booker and the Suns.