In case it wasn’t clear with the LA Clippers’ Game 5 victory, Paul George sent a strong and clear message to the Phoenix Suns.
“If (Phoenix) wants to finish this series, (the Suns) are going to have to work hard to achieve it. They have to beat us, ”said George, after the Clippers avoided elimination after beating the Suns 116-102 in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals in Phoenix.
With the win, Los Angeles moved closer to 3-2 in the series and forced into Game 6, in which they also faced elimination.
“That was our pre-game mentality, that we wouldn’t give up, we were going to fight. At this point, it’s a game for us and one for them (Suns), it’s a match for them to advance and eliminate us or a match to move on. This is how we face the moment, ”reiterated George, who set a personal best in the Playoffs with 41 points and added 13 rebounds with six assists.
The Clippers have started all three series this postseason with 0-2 deficits. In the first round against the Dallas Mavericks and in the conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz, but they managed to come back to advance and against the Suns, those led by Tyronn Lue seek to repeat the feat.
“We are not uncomfortable being on the ropes, it is when we show our best version,” said veteran DeMarcus Cousins, who contributed 15 points from the bench.
Lue, who once again showed his ability to make adjustments before each game and put his team in position to win, is 10-2 in games in which his quintets face elimination.
Devin Booker and Chris Paul combined for 53 of the Suns’ total points and the Clippers managed to contain Deandre Ayton under the rim with 10 points and 11 rebounds, a contrasting harvest with the 19 points and 22 rebounds he had in Game 4 in Game 4. Phoenix star.
“We have had to face different situations throughout the season, deal with casualties and other players have taken the load. I have used the word ‘resilience’ before, but it is what best defines this group of players, ”Lue said after the victory in Phoenix. “When we trust our game and execute what we know how to do, we are a good team, regardless of who is on the floor. I love these players, they compete every night.
“The work is not complete yet, but we came into a hostile environment, we got a great victory without three starters and we have to do it two more times,” he added.
The Clippers recovered their effectiveness on offense with 54.8 percent shooting from the field. In addition to George’s 41 points, Reggie Jackson contributed 23 points and Marcus Morris 22.
“They have been very close games, we are talking about two or three shots that could have changed the conversation of how we are at the moment, but today was a good day for us, we were effective with the shots and now we have the opportunity to go to Los Angeles for the next game and keep fighting, “said Marcus Morris.
The Clippers avoided elimination in a series against the Suns in which they have had to play without their star Kawhi Leonard, who is recovering from a knee injury and has lost seven consecutive games in the current postseason. For Game 5, the Angelenos also did not have their center Ivica Zubac, who missed his first game of the entire season with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. Morris covered Zubac’s absence.
“We shine right now. This team is made of toughness, we are tough. We gave everything we had and we excelled on these stages, ”George said. “The good thing about coach Lue was that we didn’t panic, he gave us calm. It is not good at this time to panic, you have to stay calm, whole and focused to face the situation ”.
The Clippers are clinging to the hope of reaching their first NBA Finals in their 51-year history. Their participation in the conference finals against the Suns is the furthest the Los Angeles team has come.