By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
It turns out that the Celtics drew the short straw out of 29 and will be the first team to get a look at the Clippers' new Kawhi Leonard-Paul George duo in Wednesday's late-night meeting at the Staples Center.
14 games into the year, it's almost surprising to think that this will be the first time you're going to see George and Leonard on the floor together, but George's recovery from offseason shoulder surgeries and Leonard's knee contusion/load management days have left Doc Rivers without one of his 1A or 1B on every given night throughout the first month of the season.
And despite LA's modest 9-5 record, this will obviously and without question be the greatest test of the C's early season to date, as both George and Leonard have been downright dominant when in the lineup this season.
"They’re a handful, this team is a handful," Celtics coach Brad Stevens admitted. "They’ve got great players on both ends of the court. Right now, what do they have, four guys averaging over 19 a game? And the three perimeters are guys that have been scoring forever and [Montrezl] Harrell’s just so tough. With [Lou] Williams and Harrell coming off the bench, I just think that’s a different dynamic than almost everybody else in the league.”
Leonard has picked up right where he left off as the NBA Finals MVP, with 26.8 points and 8.9 boards per night (both career-bests if they hold) through his first nine games with the Clips. Leonard averaged 29 points, 8.8 rebounds, and shot 47.6 percent in four head-to-heads against the Celtics last year. George, meanwhile, has been even better, averaging 29.3 points per night and shooting a ridiculous 56.3 percent from the floor (and over 52 percent from deep) in three games out of the gate.
It creates an absolute impossible defensive approach for the opposition, and they know it.
“There is no way that guys can take themselves out of the play defensively and try to faceguard," George said about trying to double-team either himself or Leonard. "You just can’t do that because Lou, Kawhi or myself, whoever is getting that type of defense, we are going to pick you apart and make plays offensively.”
On the injury front, Gordon Hayward will remain out of the lineup due to his hand injury, while Marcus Smart is considered probable with an ankle injury.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.