The Los Angeles Clippers will take the court on the road tonight in a crucial Game 5 against the Utah Jazz. Unfortunately, Tyronn Lue's squad will be shorthanded when they do, as the team shared that Kawhi Leonard will be out indefinitely with a knee injury he sustained on Monday.
Without Leonard, the Clippers will have their backs against the wall on Wednesday night and possibly beyond. The onus will fall on Paul George to pick up the slack and lead Los Angeles in the all-important Game 5.
For Shaquille O'Neal, Wednesday will be the perfect opportunity for "Playoff P" to step into his role as the most important player on the Clippers. The Hall of Fame big man and TNT analyst explained why he views George that way earlier this afternoon.
"I like Playoff P. He's a guy, I respect him because the last couple playoffs, he has not played well. We've been bashing him and killing him. He hasn't responded, not one time. I respect that," O'Neal
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">said on "The Big Podcast" on Wednesday. "He comes back each year and adds something to his game. He's been kind of up-and-down these playoffs but these last two games he's been Playoff P. If he can continue that for two more games, [the Clippers] are onto the Western Conference Finals.
"Kawhi is the best player, but PG is the most important."
Considering Leonard is out indefinitely with a potentially serious knee injury, George's importance has increased significantly. If he can't play well in two of the next three games, the Clippers will likely be on their way out of the playoffs, short of their goal for the second consecutive season.
When the spotlight has been on George, he's turned in a mixed bag of results. He'll do his best to right the ship on Wednesday night when his Clippers take the floor for Game 5.
The Jazz and the Clippers will tip-off at 10 p.m. ET on TNT.