The Los Angeles Clippers have been playing with an incomplete roster all season. Kawhi Leonard hasn’t taken the floor at all while recovering from a torn ACL, and his co-star, Paul George, has suited up just 26 times due to a variety of injuries. George last played on Dec. 22. A torn UCL in his right elbow has kept him out ever since, and given the nature of the injury and the surgery that followed, there appeared to be a chance George would miss the remainder of the season.
But in a rare bit of positive medical news for the Clippers, George played 5-on-5 on Sunday and practiced on Monday according to coach Ty Lue. When asked if George could be cleared to play this week, Lue responded by saying that it would depend on how George feels. He is listed as questionable for the Clippers’ game against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night.
The Clippers are currently seeded eighth in the Western Conference and are all but assured to remain there as they lead No. 9 New Orleans by four games and trail the No. 7 spot by 6.5 games. That means that the Clippers will have two chances to reach the playoffs: a road game against whoever finishes No. 7, and should they lose that contest, a home matchup with whoever wins the No. 9 vs. No. 10 play-in game, which could easily be their Staples Center co-tenants, the Los Angeles Lakers.
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That the Clippers have managed to stay afloat without George and Leonard is a testament to the quality of the rest of their organization. The Clippers have cultivated a remarkably deep roster with an excellent coaching staff, and even if they have been held out of the championship race, just staying in the top eight considering the injuries they’ve dealt with is a remarkable achievement.
With a healthy George, this team becomes even more lethal. Remember, the Clippers pushed the eventual Western Conference champion Suns to the brink without Leonard in the 2021 postseason. If George is able to return, the Clippers would be a threat to anyone they face in the playoffs. Now, that possibility appears to be in play.