NBA: 8 Stars facing enormous pressure to make a deep run in the 2024 playoffs

Which NBA stars are facing the most pressure to come through in the 2024 NBA Playoffs?
Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics
Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics / Adam Glanzman/GettyImages
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Kawhi Leonard and Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers)

This is a make-or-break playoff run for the duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George (you could throw James Harden in there as well).

After looking like the best team in basketball for a two-month stretch, the LA Clippers are now locked into what will be a grueling 4-5 matchup in the 1st round of the playoffs where there will be loud noise about the loser no matter who it is.

After starting the year 8-10, LAC went on a 26-4 run to improve to 34-15 and looked like championship favorites. Things got a little hairy from there however as the Clippers went 10-12 over their next 22 games. They finished the year going 7-4 to finish 51-31.

The Clippers were healthy for a majority of the season, but that changed towards the end of March when Kawhi went down with a knee injury. He has not played yet in April, but the Clippers are "hopeful" that he will be available by playoff time.

Kawhi averaged 23.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game on 52.5% shooting (41.7% 3P) on the season. While, George averaged 22.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game on 47.1% shooting (41.3% 3PT).

There is also some residual pressure on James Harden to perform in the playoffs. Over the last three years, Harden averaged 19.6 points, six rebounds, and 8.5 assists per game on 41.6% shooting (37.1% 3PT) in 32 playoff games. That is compared to averages of 22.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 10.5 assists per game on 43.6% shooting in the regular season in the same timeframe. He also averaged just 11 points per game on 7/27 shooting in back-to-back losses in Games 6 and 7 of last year's Eastern Conference semi's loss to Boston. Harden averaged 16.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 8.5 assists per game on 42.8% shooting (38.1% 3PT) this season.

Plus with George facing a player option this offseason and Harden heading into Free Agency and already on his fourth team in four years, it's very possible that two out of these three could be playing elsewhere next season (especially if this playoff run does not go according to plan). There is a very real possibility that if the Clippers flame out early in the playoffs both George and Harden leave, and the Clippers will have had Leonard/George for five seasons (obviously many injuries were involved), with zero finals appearances and just three series wins to show for it.

Again, injuries have always been the limiting factor to the Leonard/George partnership, which if anything shows that maybe the main pressure is on them to both be healthy for a full playoff (especially with Leonard already banged up).