NBA Playoffs: Los Angeles Clippers Shooting Guard Paul George to Miss First Round

Posted on: April 14, 2023, 09:19h. 

Last updated on: April 14, 2023, 09:19h.

The Los Angeles Clippers will begin the 2023 NBA Playoffs without All-Star guard Paul George, who is sidelined in the opening round of the postseason with a right knee injury.

Paul George
Paul George from the Los Angeles Clippers, seen here getting helped off the court, suffered a knee injury against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Arena in March. (Image: Getty)

The Clippers (44-36) secured the #5 seed in the Western Conference and will meet the #4 Phoenix Suns (45-37) in the first round.

If by chance the Clippers can pick off Kevin Durant and the Suns without George, there’s a strong chance George will play in the conference semifinals. He’s not ready to return to the court right now, but should be ready to suit up for the Clippers in a couple of weeks.

George missed significant time last season with an elbow injury, but avoided surgery. He bounced back with rest and treatments, and he returned to his old shooting form this season.

Prior to his knee injury, George averaged 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.5 steals per game in 56 games this season. He also connected on 37% from the 3-point range.

Without George, the Clippers were in jeopardy of losing ground in the playoff hunt, but they finished the season with a 6-3 record and held on to the #5 seed.

PG-13 Out Since March

George sustained a sprained right knee in mid-March, and the Clippers shut him down the remainder of the season in hopes his injury will heal before the beginning of the playoffs. George collided with Lu Dort from the Oklahoma City Thunder during a freakish play. He needed help off the court, and the Clippers feared the worse.

An MRI revealed a sprained knee, and not a more serious injury like a torn ACL.

We thought it could be a lot worse than what it was,” said head coach Ty Lue. “Just seeing him do some things and actually start to feel better, that’s good to see.”

George was cleared to participate in light drills during practice, but the Clippers will not active him until he’s 100% healthy.

“We’re definitely not going to do anything to hurt PG,” added Lue. “Even if he does try to come back, and if he’s not right, then we’re not going to let him go. Because we’re not going to let him injure himself and make it worse than what it really is.”

Shooting guard Norman Powell played a pivotal role as sixth man for the Clippers this season. Powell averaged 17.0 points per game this season, and he’s expected to pick up the scoring slack without George.

Veteran guard Eric Gordon replaced George in the starting lineup, and he averaged 11.5 points per game late in the season.

Terance Mann will also soak up minutes at shooting guard in the opening round. The backup combo guard averaged 8.8 points per game, and shot 39% from 3-point land.

Betting the Clippers in the Playoffs

The Suns are a huge favorite to defeat the Clippers and win their opening round series at -500 odds. Without George, the Clippers are an underdog to win the series at +370 odds. FiveThirtyEight predicts the Clippers have a 22% chance to upset the Suns in the first round.

The Suns opened as a -7 favorite against the Clippers in Game 1 of their opening-round series.

The Clippers are +5000 odds to win the 2022-23 NBA championship, according to DraftKings. It’s a noticeable drop off from +1300 odds at the time of George’s injury. Oddsmakers do not have much faith in the Clippers because they drew the Suns in the first round.

The Clippers were +600 odds to win the Western Conference in early March, but their odds have seriously dipped to +1900 due to George’s injury.

FiveThirtyEight projects the Clippers have a 2% chance to advance to the NBA Finals, with a 0.5% chance to win the championship.

The Suns are the consensus favorite to win the Western Conference at +190 odds. Even though the wide-open Western Conference was a tight race up until the final week of the season, bettors jumped all over the Suns after they added Durant in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets in early February. Durant missed several weeks with a sprained ankle, but the Suns are still a popular pick to win the conference and the NBA title.

The Suns are +425 odds to win the NBA championship. They’re third overall on the futures board behind the Milwaukee Bucks (+265) and Boston Celtics (+310), yet the Suns represent the highest team from west.