Clips 154 Mavs 111

But the night was about Paul George and Jacob Blake.

Jim Rome
August 26, 2020 - 9:16 am
Paul George

USA Today

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Game 5 of the Mavericks-Clippers series felt a helluva lot like Game 4 of the Blazers-Lakers series. The team from LA came flying out of the gates, cold-cocking their opponents from the start and they wouldn’t let up.

And as with the night before, last night wasn’t really about the game. It was about two people: Paul George and Jacob Blake. I’ll get to both of them in a moment.

Remember, Doc Rivers had called his team “very emotionally weak” after the Game 4 loss to Dallas. And he was right. Because they were ALL WRONG.  They blew a 21-point lead, with a chance to put a stranglehold on the series, against a Mavs team without Kristaps... And then watched as Luka snatched their souls.  And did it on one good ankle.

Last night, Kristaps was still out, Luka’s ankle still wasn’t good, but the Clippers were a lot stronger. They were attacking everything. And talking about everything. The Clippers bench was clowning missed shots by Dallas, flexing after big plays, yelling at the refs, yelling at the Mavs, yelling at everyone. They were ALL IN. MENTALLY, EMOTIONALLY AND PHYSICALLY; this was the Clipper crew everyone has been waiting on. And they were feeling it.

As Dan Woike tweeted: The amount of free-throw bleep talking here is off the charts

That game was chippy as hell. 6 technical fouls, 1 flagrant, and Rick Carlisle ejected. It was chippy to the point that there was a suggestion that Clippers forward Marcus Morris might have intentionally stepped on Luka’s bad ankle.

And the final score: 154-111.

One hundred fifty four points in a playoff game. That’s crazy. Almost as crazy as the 32-6 run the Clippers put up in the first half. That was a team that had been punched in the face in Game 4, lost its mouthpiece, found it, and started swinging. 

Kawhi was throwing down early.

Montrez was throwing down late.

And yes, I’m aware that they did that to a busted up Mavs team missing its second best player for the second straight game.

But again…Those were the Clippers everyone expected to see from the outset. Those were the Clippers everyone expected to see when Kawhi Leonard and Paul George arrived last summer.

And speaking of Paul George, Playoff P had been glossed Pandemic P for his anemic offense in the previous three games. But he showed up and showed out last night. How about a quick little montage?

In his previous three games, he was 10 of 47 from the field. 4 of 25 from deep. Averaging 11 points per game.

Last night? 12 for 18 from the field, 4 of 8 from three, for 35 points in 25 minutes. And the Clippers needed that.  Badly.  And PG needed it for himself even worse. So exactly what changed? I’ll let him tell you.

Forget the 35 points and the great shooting, his post-game interview might have been the best part of last night. Let me read that back to you, because it really is that important.

"The bubble got the best of me," George said. "I was just in a dark place. I really wasn't here, I checked out. These past couple of games, it was just difficult. But shoutout to the people that stood behind me, that were in my corner. The positivity of my teammates, my family, my friends, everybody. Thanks everybody that reached out to me. I was just in a bad place. But I found my way. I'm back, and I look forward to the rest of this run."

That is awesome. That honesty is so powerful. Saying that the bubble got the best of him, he was in a dark place, and he checked out? That’s so much more impressive than trying to bluff your way through something. Or f-bombing fans on social media. 

I love what he said there on the court. And I loved what he said later, too.

Again, I really respect the fact that he’s talking about his mental health, and dealing with anxiety, and depression, and actually admitted that he checked out. That’s something everyone can identify with. A lot of people are struggling with isolation during this pandemic and these guys are no different.

They’ve been in the bubble for nearly two months now. I don’t care how rich or how famous you are, if you’re away from family and loved ones for that long, it’s going to get to you, it’s going to grind you down. Beat you up. Put you in a dark place. 

And George talked about the fact that he spent time talking to the team psychiatrist. Again, that is so awesome and so impressive. That’s how far we’ve come in such a short time when it comes to professional athletes. Can you imagine a superstar athlete like Paul George saying that he talked to a psychiatrist ten years ago? Or even five years ago?

He be mocked and criticized for being weak, but I’m here to say that’s a sign of strength. He recognized that he needed help and he got it. That takes strength. The weak way of doing it would be to f-bomb people on social media, keep chucking up terrible shots, never admit a problem and hurt your team in the process. 

But that was strong by George. Nothing but respect for him after that.

I said at the top of the take that last night was about Paul George and Jacob Blake. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was asked before the game if he wanted to talk about the shooting of Jacob Blake. He said he would speak about it after the game. And when he did, it was incredibly powerful.

It’s a little longer than the normal Clips that I play on this show, but I’m going to play it because we all need to hear it. And as a warning, you might be offended by it. You might be tempted to change the station for a moment. And if that’s the case, just ask yourself, why? Why does it offend you and why do you want to change the station? Why can’t you just listen to what he has to say?

Roll it.

There’s nothing I can add to that, other than to repeat one line: "if you watch that video, you don't need to be Black to be outraged. You need to be American and outraged.”

Again, last night’s game wasn’t really about the game. It was about two people. Paul George. And Jacob Blake. And if that statement offends you, again, I’m going to ask, why does it offend you?