LA Clippers poised for Game 5 showdown as oldest team left standing in NBA playoffs

James Harden #1 of the Los Angeles Clippers. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

"The show must go on," is what they say in Hollywood and that’s exactly what the Los Angeles Clippers will continue to do against the Dallas Mavericks without superstar Kawhi Leonard in the lineup. The six-time All-Star continues to battle inflammation in his right knee with no timetable for his return. 

The Clippers front office seemingly prepared for this storm when they acquired James Harden from the Philadelphia 76ers – a necessary move to free Harden from his misery after his relationship with Sixers president Daryl Morey soured.

"When PG [Paul George] or Kawhi is out, we have another guy can that step up and take on his scoring load," Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters after Game 4 of the series.

During his introductory press conference, Harden made the eyebrow-raising statement, "I’m not a system player, I’m the system." That system appears to be working as Harden has been phenomenal in the playoff series.

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"I'm blessed to be able to change it up and be a facilitator or scorer. I've been doing that throughout the course of my career at an elite level," Harden said after Game 4's heart-pumping win. "My mindset coming to this team was doing whatever it takes to get to the end goal."

In 40 minutes, Harden had 33 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists. 

While under a Purple and Gold shadow, the Clippers also play under the brightest lights with plenty of star power. In addition to Leonard and Harden, the Clippers also have Paul George and Russell Westbrook. Coincidentally, all four future Hall of Famers grew up in the greater Los Angeles area. 

With the Lakers officially out of the playoffs, those lights will turn even brighter -- garnering more eyes, and pressure, on the Clippers. 

One company has already jumped on the bandwagon with only one LA team remaining. Skyscanner has a billboard at LA Live advertising deals from Dallas to Cancun as a nod to the "1,2,3…Cancun!" catchphrase that originated in LA.

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Lue has stated throughout the series they are tapping into an all-hands-on-deck and that it takes everyone. 

A Clippers forward Paul George (13) slam dunks at Crypto.Com Arena. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

In Game 4, George was equally impressive as Harden with 33 points, 4 steals, and 8 assists. 

A fifth name that doesn't get mentioned as much as he deserves is Norman Powell. The UCLA alumnus and San Diego native was once again snubbed for the league’s Sixth Man of the Year Award. 

Despite being unseen by the league, he continues to shine and has been a consistent powerhouse off the bench. 

In addition, Clippers big man Ivica Zubac is having his best postseason yet. In Game 1, he had a career-high of 20 points. 

Then there's Amir Coffey, who has started in Leonard's place. He has been a dynamic defensive duo with Terance Mann against Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irvine. 

Another story to watch is how the Clippers represent what appears to be the final stages of an era in the NBA. Some of the league's biggest names, including LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry, have all been eliminated from playoff contention. 

After the Lakers were eliminated, Magic Johnson pointed out that the best teams in the West are younger. While the Clippers may lack youth, their advantage is experience. 

"We're a veteran squad, and I think a lot of us have been through tough situations throughout the course of our careers. So, that's a bonus right there. It helps us to where things go."

This year, the goal is to make it to the NBA Finals and win the franchise's first-ever championship. 

On Wednesday, the Clippers play a pivotal Game 5 against the Mavs and aim to take a lead in the series.

If they advance to the second round, it'll be a matchup between the youngest team to ever win a playoff series in NBA history and the oldest team in the league. 

However, many fans aren't even thinking about the second round. They've been heartbroken and left disappointed many times before and are taking the series one game at a time. 

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"It's one day at a time [around] here. We're on Game 5. Not taking a damn thing for granted with Kyrie doing dark magic with the basketball," one fan wrote on X.

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Tip-off for Game 5 is set for 7 p.m. at the Arena in downtown LA.