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Paul George says playoff struggles were fuel: ‘I’m coming back with vengeance’

Vincent Goodwell and Carron J. Phillips talk with Amin Elhassan about what to expect from the Warriors this season, how Steve Nash will handle Kyrie Irving and James Harden's rocky departure from Houston.

Paul George struggled in the bubble — both with his game and adjusting mentally to the isolation — and was part of why the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead against the Denver Nuggets.

George heard all the talk, but he has bounced back so far with arguably the best start to a season in his career — 25.3 points a game on an incredible 68.3 true shooting percentage, both career highs. He’s averaging 1.35 points per shot attempt according to Cleaning the Glass, also a career high. He’s taking half his shot attempts from three this season and hitting a ridiculous 51.5% so far, a number that will come back to earth but also shows how much better his shoulders feel coming off multiple surgeries before last season. He’s not been as consistent as he may have hoped (no Clipper has), but he’s not using more of the offense than in years past, he is more efficient. He was that again in the Clippers thrashing of the Kings Friday night, putting up 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting.

After the game, Paul George talked about his motivation this season — that people looked at him in the bubble and saw weakness.

“I’m coming back with vengeance,” George said, once again referencing the end of last season. “I didn’t like, not so much of the noise and everything around [the season ending], but just the fact that people saw weakness, and I had to address that. I had to answer that. That fueled me.”

Between offseason shoulder surgeries before last season and then the isolation of the bubble, George feels like himself this season for the first time in a while, and it shows on the court.

“After the tough year last year, it was the only way I could respond... George said. “Almost two years removed from having my shoulders operated on... I am just in a healthier mind state; I am in a healthier place.”

The Clippers are off to a 9-4 start and are one of the few teams in the league that has shown the potential to be a threat to the Lakers. George is a big part of that play, and his motivation is not going to fade as the playoffs come around next spring and summer.