Paul George was unable to play in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s final game of the regular season because of a shoulder injury, and it sounds like the ailment is one that could stick with him through at least a portion of the playoffs.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan said Friday that George is “day to day” ahead of Sunday’s opening-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers. George later told reporters he expects to play, but he admitted he may be less than 100 percent healthy.
Paul George said the pain in his right shoulder was too much to try and play through against Milwaukee, but says “as much as I can get it 100 as possible or close to it, you can expect me out there Sunday.” pic.twitter.com/5wHNiC7CyR
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) April 12, 2019
George had an outstanding season in his second year with the Thunder, as he set or tied career-highs in almost every major category with 28.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.2 steals per game. It goes without saying that Oklahoma City would be in big trouble without him, but it would be a shock if George didn’t play through the shoulder issue. Whether or not it will limit him is the bigger concern for the Thunder.
The matchup between Oklahoma City and Portland should be one of the more intriguing ones to watch with some of the bad blood between the two teams, and George’s injury is yet another storyline to keep an eye on.
Russell Westbrook is no longer the only Oklahoma City Thunder star that Patrick Beverley has beef with.
The LA Clippers defeated the Thunder on Friday night by the final of 118-110. After the game, OKC forward Paul George, who fouled out of the contest after scoring just 15 points, had some pointed criticisms of the officiating. George was later fined for his comments.
On Saturday, Beverley, the Clippers guard, called out George on Twitter for his criticisms. He linked to a highlight reel of his defense on George during the game and clowned him for “tr[ying] to blame the refs.” Beverley also tagged George in a later tweet and said that he won the battle “plain and simple.”
Men lie, numbers don’t. He tried to blame the refs. Naw bra bra!!! https://t.co/cmKzRIVAmC
— Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) March 9, 2019
@Yg_Trece never knew u for the excuse type. Give credit if credit is due. I locked u up last night. I won the Battle last night. Plain and simple.
— Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) March 9, 2019
For his part, George had this to say in response to Beverley’s boasts:
Stop it pat lol LA has gave you a platform now but stop it bra bra!
— Paul George (@Yg_Trece) March 9, 2019
George also picked up a technical foul against the Clippers and was one of three Thunder players to foul out along with Westbrook and Steven Adams.
As for the 6-foot-1 Beverley, he has recently been asked to defend larger forwards with the Clippers’ lack of depth at the 3 spot thanks to injuries to Wilson Chandler and Luc Mbah a Moute plus the trade of Tobias Harris. Beverley did a similarly effective job on LeBron James in a win over the Lakers earlier in the week and had a lot to say after that game as well.
Unsurprisingly, Paul George’s comments about how the Oklahoma City Thunder are officiated did not go unnoticed by the league office.
George has been fined $25,000 for his extended commentary on the officiating after Friday’s 118-110 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. George was hit with a technical foul during the first quarter of the game and ultimately fouled out with about four minutes to go.
Paul George has been fined $25,000 for criticizing officiating. pic.twitter.com/A5KgUEof85
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) March 9, 2019
George said Friday that the Thunder hadn’t “gotten a fair whistle all year” and even admitted he knew he’d be fined for his comments.
After this, Paul George said, “I’m going to lose money on this. We speak up, we lose money. There’s nothing I can do to change that.” pic.twitter.com/u3gnuevMdW
— Maddie Lee (@maddie_m_lee) March 9, 2019
George hasn’t been shy about talking about how the Thunder get the short end of officiating decisions in the past. He knows it will cost him money and he doesn’t really care.
The playoff races are well underway in the NBA, and things are very competitive in both conferences. It looks likely that only a handful of games will separate fifth from eighth in certain cases, and the margins between making and missing the playoffs will be small.
Most contenders have key figures who will have a big say in where their teams land. These aren’t always the obvious stars, but a key name who’s returning from injury or picking up the slack at the right time. Here are 10 key players who will have a big say in the playoff races.
10. Buddy Hield, G, Kings
Hield has had a breakout year this season, but he hasn’t always been in the good graces of coach Dave Joerger, much to the frustration of some other players. The Kings are very much in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, and they’ll need Hield to play fearlessly — and have the trust of his coach — down the stretch. If he can play to his capabilities — like when he made 53.4 percent of his threes in January — the Kings will have a huge weapon as they chase a playoff spot.
Paul George took heat on Twitter after Zion Williamson suffered a knee injury while wearing PG’s Nike shoe model during Wednesday’s Duke-North Carolina game.
Williamson ripped straight through his shoe in the first minute of the game and left the floor with an injury. The Blue Devils freshman sensation was wearing the Nike PG 2.5 PE — George’s shoe.
Some sneakerheads knew Williamson was wearing the Paul George shoe and went after the Thunder star on Twitter, calling him out over his shoes.
— Chàsé (@realOGabernethy) February 21, 2019
— Free Nicaragua Now (@NicoyaCharm) February 21, 2019
Bad look for @Yg_Trece with Zion blowing out his signature shoe in tonight’s game. So sad to see his MVP year go down the drain like that.
— Ryan Houx (@HouxRyan) February 21, 2019
— Conner Hibberd (@conhibbz5) February 21, 2019
— The Backwood Messiah (@SalttBucket) February 21, 2019
This is a bad look for Nike and for George as well. The competition saw weakness and already tried to pounce. Williamson would be wise to consider switching to LeBron James’ shoe, which is built for a player similar to his size.
Paul George gave James Harden a taste of his own medicine during the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night, and the Oklahoma City Thunder star wasn’t about to downplay the move while speaking with reporters after the event.
During the third quarter of Team LeBron’s comeback win over Team Giannis, George — who was on the losing team — hit a stepback three-pointer over Harden.
Paul George did the James Harden stepback on James Harden pic.twitter.com/RE7buBhcSb
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) February 18, 2019
Harden is arguably the best offensive player in the NBA, and the stepback is a huge part of his game. A lot of people think he consistently gets away with traveling on that move, and George alluded to that when asked about borrowing it from Harden.
Oklahoma City’s Paul George on his stepback over James Harden.
PG: “Who was guarding me?”
PG: “I hit him with his s—-. … I’ve got that in my package too. Ain’t no travels.”
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) February 18, 2019
Whether it’s a travel or not, Harden has made the stepback more popular. George wasn’t even the first player in the past week to drain the shot with Harden defending, so it’s something he is probably getting used to.
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Paul George was booed by Los Angeles Lakers fans on Wednesday night, but he says he gets it.
George forced his way out of Indianapolis with the threat that he wanted to sign with the Lakers in free agency. The Pacers traded him to the Thunder, with whom he signed an extension over the summer. Lakers fans didn’t like that, and in George’s first game in front of the Lakers crowd, he was booed.
George still scored 37 in a 107-100 win over the Lakers and was asked about the boos following the game.
“I’m not the only SoCal kid from this area that didn’t play here. But I took it with respect,” George told ESPN after the game. “This is an unbelievable organization. The utmost respect for everybody in their office, for the city. It’s always love here regardless of the boos tonight. It is what it is.”
George came away with the ultimate prize since his team got the win, so he shouldn’t be too bothered. Sometimes it’s nice to be the villain; being booed is a sign of respect. As Reggie Jackson said, they don’t boo nobodies.