Clippers’ Paul George expected to miss early first-round games against Suns

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Clippers Paul George expected to miss early first-round games against Suns

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George is expected to miss a couple of first-round games against the Phoenix Suns during the 2023 NBA Playoffs. The eight-time All-Star suffered a right knee sprain in the Clippers’ 101-100 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Mar. 21.

George is making “tangible progress,” per Shams Charania of The Athletic. The 13-year veteran missed a total of 26 games during the regular season. Through 56 starts this season, George averaged 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Plus, the wing shot 45.7% from the floor and 37.1% beyond the arc.

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In the Clippers’ 131-130 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 31, Paul George scored a season-high 45 points in 40 minutes of action. Along with notching nine boards, four assists, and three steals, the forward shot 15-of-25 (60%) from the field and drained seven 3-pointers.

Moreover, the Clippers finished 6-3 in games played without George since his injury. For the season, Los Angeles is 12-14 minus the six-time All-NBA member. While the Clippers can still win with Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook, the Western Conference contender is a weaker team with George out of the lineup.

Clippers forward Paul George (right knee sprain) is expected to be sidelined to begin first-round playoff series against Suns

Considering the Suns are 8-0 in games played with Kevin Durant since the trade deadline, the Clippers will need Paul George to return as soon as possible. Los Angeles won both meetings of the regular-season series. Though, Durant has not yet faced the Clippers in a Suns uniform.

Additionally, in the Clippers’ 119-114 regular-season finale victory over Phoenix on Sunday, Norman Powell led the team in scoring with 29 points off the bench. Leonard and Westbrook each added 25 as well. The Suns played without Durant, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton.

Despite four starters on the bench, Phoenix outscored the Clippers 28-19 in the opening quarter. “I don’t know — I ain’t talking about this game,” L.A. coach Tyronn Lue said. “It’s over, we’re in the playoffs, I want to focus on that. We didn’t play our best game today, we know that, but we’ll put it behind us and focus on the bigger picture.”

The first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs begins Saturday, April 16. Of course, the Clippers have never defeated Phoenix in a playoff series. In the second round of the 2006 NBA Playoffs, the Suns eliminated L.A. in seven games. During the 2021 Western Conference Finals, Phoenix defeated the Clippers in six games.

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