Los Angeles Clippers star guard Paul George believes his team would have made the NBA Finals had Kawhi Leonard been healthy for the series. Leonard, the 2019 NBA Finals MVP, missed the entire Western Conference Finals series versus the Phoenix Suns due to a knee injury.
"We'd be going on," George said when asked what would have happened had Leonard played in the conference finals. "This series would be a lot different. Talk about one of the best players in the league being out, yet we were inches away from getting to the next round.
"So definitely it's a 'what if' on this. Fact of the matter is we didn't do enough to win, and that's the reason we're going home." Clippers head coach Ty Lue insisted his team left it all on the court against the Suns.
"It is a shock," Lue said. "I think it's a shock to a lot of guys in that locker room. It just tells you a lot about the team. Like no matter who is playing, we still feel like every night we have a chance to win no matter who is on the floor.
I thought we ran out of gas and first thing goes when you get tired and fatigued is mentally. That first half, we made a lot of mistakes defensively, a lot of mistakes coming out of time-outs or just play calls in general, just not there mentally."
George didn't learn nothing new this postseason
"Nothing that I didn't know already," George said of what he learned from his postseason. "The narrative of me not being postseason player or all that, I never understood it."
"[But] I came up short again," George later added. "I'm proud of what we did as a team. I wasn't out to prove nothing to nobody but to show up as a leader for this team and to put us in position to get to where we got to.
Again, came up short. My good wasn't enough. There's room for improvement... I'll look back. I'll reflect." George suggested that he and Leonard will be back next year together. "We've made great connections," George said.
"I think we've both grown, myself and Kawhi together. I think we really enjoy being teammates, and we see what we can be and with a we can do." George later added about the team's injuries: "I thought this team squeezed everything we could out of what we had. We squeezed everything out of one another, and I thought we got stronger and better as the season went on."