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What impact does Paul George’s COVID-19 case have on the play-in game?

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Paul George of the Los Angeles Clippers has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and will miss Friday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, which will determine the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff place.

President of basketball operations Lawrence Frank told reporters that George hadn’t felt well Thursday and that the team learned he had entered the NBA’s COVID-related protocols Friday morning before a shoot-around at the team’s Playa Vista practice facility.

In the Clippers’ loss to Minnesota in the opening game of the play-in tournament on Tuesday, George had a game-high 34 points, leaving the Clippers having to beat New Orleans at Crypto.com Arena to advance to a first-round series against top-seeded Phoenix.

One NBA scout, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly, explained what George’s absence will entail.

“When you have superstars on your team, the ball seems to stick a little bit. [Teammates] are caught watching them do their thing, whereas the ball is actually moving without Paul. Reggie [Jackson] will be leaving. Isaiah [Hartenstein] will be there. There are a lot of rapid [isolations] with Paul, which I noticed versus Minnesota. Tonight, I believe the ball movement will improve…. I’m not sure what [Clippers coach] Ty Lue will do with Brandon Ingram, who is a handful, and the Pelicans have two guys who can score in Ingram and C.J. McCollum. Is he going to let one of the guys get busy and then try to take the other one out? That will be the game

“… Because it’s at home, role players will perform better….” New Orleans is improving; in their play-in win over San Antonio, they looked pretty good.” I believe it’s just a matter of C.J. settling in and Ingram regaining his health. [Coach of the Pelicans] Willie Green prefers to play quickly. He places them in settings that allow them to perform at their best. McCollum is free to do anything he wants because he only runs two or three plays for Ingram and puts him in his [isolation] circumstances. They’re just hard to play against, which is Willie’s style, but they’ve always been that; they just didn’t have the quality to sustain it early in the season. When Jose Alvarado walks in, he gives them a boost of vitality.”

It’s unclear whether the Clippers will be without reserve guard Luke Kennard, who led the NBA in three-point accuracy with 44.9 percent. Due to a sore right hamstring, he was unable to play in the loss in Minnesota and is still listed as questionable.

The Clippers will be in a familiar situation as a result of the development: they will be short-handed. The Clippers have been preparing for this moment for months.

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