After defeating the Detroit Pistons in their second game since returning from a seven-game road trip, the LA Clippers are just two games away from All-Star weekend. These final two games include a clash with the Western Conference's top-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves, giving the Clippers an opportunity to regain position atop the conference before the break.
Despite their position in the standings having won 17 of their last 20 games, a few question marks still remain around the Clippers in terms of player health, rotations, and usage rates. As the NBA regular season schedule enters its second half, it will be important for the Clippers to find answers to these questions and continue to fine-tune their roster in hopes of building a title winner.
1. How well is Paul George recovering from his injury?
During the Clippers' comeback win over the Brooklyn Nets in January, Paul George reportedly suffered an injury to his groin that was then reaggravated during the team's 127-116 win over the Los Angeles Lakers two days later. Coach Tyronn Lue and the Clippers' medical staff opted to continue allowing George to play through the injury on a minutes restriction, missing just one game since the initial injury.
Playing through the injury has clearly impacted George's play during certain games. In the team's losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New Orleans Pelicans over this recent stretch, George shot a combined 6-of-26 from the field, including an 0-of-13 line from beyond the arc.
However, in response to a forgettable performance against the Pelicans, Paul George notched 33 points and shined in the fourth quarter during what was otherwise a dull outing for the Clippers. Notwithstanding the team's first game in franchise history without recording an offensive rebound, George was able to will Los Angeles to victory.
Although he is slated to play in the All-Star Game, the break from full-speed game pace will allow George's nagging injury some much-needed time to heal, which should allow him to play more consistently impactful minutes down the road.