Paul George was having an ordinary return to the court. The small forward had eight points at halftime and was inefficient from the floor, while the Los Angeles Clippers were getting blown out by the Utah Jazz.
George turned the corner in the third quarter, scoring 20 points in the frame en route to a 34-point effort in a massive comeback win over Utah. The star also added six assists and fives steals in 31 minutes of game action, with two assists coming in key moments down the stretch.
Head coach Tyronn Lue did say George would be on a minutes limit, so this means the forward will likely be able to hit 38-40 minutes per game by the time the play-in tournament rolls around.
LA is not going to catch the Denver Nuggets for the No. 6 seed, so a play-in spot is effectively guaranteed. The Clippers will likely get two shots at the playoffs, as they have enough separation over the current No. 9 seed New Orleans Pelicans. With George playing like this off the bat and likely only getting better as he acclimates to his teammates, LA will back itself to get into the final postseason bracket.
The Clippers are +2000 to win the West and +4000 to win the NBA title per DraftKings Sportsbook. Even if Kawhi Leonard doesn’t return, a healthy George would be enough to make LA a dangerous lower seed. Remember, this team did take down the Jazz without Leonard and pushed the eventual West champions Phoenix Suns to six games in the conference finals.