Since Paul George entered the NBA, he’d always been ready for his moment in the Playoffs, but this year seems a little different. George on Sunday night was outstanding on both ends of the floor, dropping 36 points and 7 rebounds while pushing the Utah Jazz out of their comfort zones in defense.
The Jazz had no answer for George’s 3-point shooting, and it’s impossible to imagine how to stop a player like George with his 6-foot-9, 220-pound stature. George shot 8-from-11 from the three-point line and looked like he knocked them down from everywhere. He sank 3s off the dribble, coming around screens off the ball, spot-up shots, and all of these with defenders wrapped around him.
Speaking of defense, the Utah Jazz had the No. 2 defense in the NBA this season, and they threw the kitchen sink at ‘Playoff P’. They stood nearly every player with George and still couldn’t stop his momentum. Its crazy to say, but there’s no reason to expect him cooling down now when he shot 40.1 percent from 3 on 7.7 attempts per game this season.
George has always brought out big numbers in his previous Playoff appearances, but there’s something different about this year. Pairing his skills with Russell Westbrook is a huge difference. For the first time in his career, George hasn’t had to do everything by himself. He’s become the number 2, and I think he loves it.
The 27-year old is in his prime and we’ve never seen what George can do with a legitimate co-star. The reason it works is that Paul can simply do what he does best: hunt for his own shot and play lockdown defense, while Russ can take care of the rest. From Sunday’s exhibition, Westbrook and George are hitting their stride, and this makes them dangerous for everyone in the West.
Catch you Thursday.