After LA Clippers are eliminated, Paul George says team would 'be going on' if Kawhi Leonard was healthy for Western Conference finals

LOS ANGELES -- Paul George wondered what if Kawhi Leonard was healthy, just a few minutes after Chris Paul and Phoenix Suns celebrated Western Conference champion on the Staples Center Floor.Losing Wednesday's Game 6 to the Suns, 130-103, the Clippers lost their playoff fight.George took a moment to reflect on the possibilities if Leonard had not injured his right knee in Game 4, which he played against the Utah Jazz.George replied, "We'd continue on," when asked about what would have happened if Leonard had played in the conference finals. This series would be very different. We were only inches away from the next round, and one of the top players in the league was out.It's definitely a "what if" on this. The fact is that we didn't win enough, and that's why we're returning home.The Clippers were the only team that could overcome a deficit of 2-0 twice in the postseason. They couldn't force a Game 7 against Suns. They were exhausted and injured. Leonard missed the last eight games due to a knee injury. The Clippers were also without Serge Ibaka (back surgery) and Ivica Zubac, who sustained a right MCL strain.They were playing their 15th game after 29 days. All three rounds had six or more games.Tyronn Lue, Clippers coach, said that his players were shocked to learn that they were only two wins away at the NBA Finals.Lue stated, "It's a shock." It's shocking to many of the guys in that locker-room. This tells you a lot more about the team. We feel that no matter who plays, there is always a chance for us to win regardless of who is on the court. I thought we had run out of gas. Mental fatigue is the first sign that you are tired. We made many mistakes defensively in the first half. A lot of them were a result of playcalls or timeouts. Mentally, it was just not enough.Paul paid for every Clippers defensive breakdown. His second-half performance was exemplary and classic CP3, with all the things that make him so frustrating for opponents. He made 12 of 16 shots including all five 3-point attempts. In the second half, he scored 31 of his 41 points.The Suns led was pushed to 118-92 by Paul's 3-pointer with 5:49 remaining in the contest. The Clippers called timeout. Paul returned to the Suns bench and a frustrated Patrick Beverley shoved him in the back. He was then ejected.Paul knew he was under the Clippers' skin and would celebrate moments later by pumping his fists in air.George and Leonard were able to watch the scene from the bench.George was fantastic this postseason, particularly after Leonard's death. George finished Wednesday with 21 points and nine assists from the Suns, which sent double-teams to him. George still answered his harshest critics by delivering his best postseason performance, leading the Clippers to their first Western Conference finals.George stated that he had learned a lot from this postseason, "nothing I didn't already know." "The story of me not being a postseason player or any other aspect of it, I never understood."George added, "But I came up short again." "I am proud of the team we built. I didn't set out to prove anything to anyone, but to be a leader and help the team get to where they need to go. I came up empty. My good was not enough. There is always room for improvement... I'll reflect. "I'll reflect."The Clippers will now see what Leonard does with his player option in the 2021-22 season.The future of Reggie Jackson, the Clippers' point guard, is also something to think about. He was a key scorer in the Clippers' postseason. Jackson is an early Bird right for the Clippers. George said that his friend probably manipulated him into believing he had plenty of options for the future.Jackson was emotional when asked about his future plans with the Clippers.Jackson said that this year was his best. He averaged 18.1 points per game and shot 41.5% from 3-point range in the postseason, which included Game 6.He said, "First thing I told them was thank you for saving my life." "I am grateful to every man in that locker room. Paul's willingness to pick up the phone at the end of the season, when he was discussing a buyout with Detroit, is something I greatly appreciate."I am grateful for all the experiences I have had here; this city makes me feel at home. This team has welcomed me with all my quirks, strengths and weaknesses. I wonder if I would still play without them.George stated that the Clippers have all of the players necessary to win another title next season, provided they stay healthy. The Clippers' resilience this postseason has put all the "bubble talk", after they lost a 3-1 lead to Florida in the second round of last year.George and Leonard were able to see what they can do when they are healthy.George stated, "We have made great connections." "I believe we both have grown together, Kawhi and myself. We enjoy being together and see the potential.George later spoke out about the team's injuries and stated, "I think this team squeezed every bit of what we had." We got everything from one another and I felt we got stronger as the season progressed."