Clippers Superstar Paul George to Miss Beginning of First Round

The Los Angeles Clippers finished the regular season with the fifth seed in the Western Conference and will avoid the play-in tournament, but they'll have to get by without one of their best players for a little while longer. The Athletic's Sham Charania reports Paul George isn't expected to be ready for the opening of the Clippers' round-one matchup with the Phoenix Suns.

George has been unavailable since injuring his knee in a March 21st loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Clippers finished 6-3 over their final nine games of the season thanks to solid play from Kawhi Leonard (24.4 points per game, .522 field goal percentage) and Russell Westbrook (19.2 points per game, .520 field goal percentage).

George is apparently expected to return at some point during the Clippers' first-round series, but every game will matter against a Suns team with powerhouse potential. Since acquiring Kevin Durant at the trade deadline, the Suns are undefeated with the 13-time All-Star on the court: they've won all eight of his starts, and he has averaged 26.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game with a .570 field goal percentage since donning a Suns jersey.

Once George is back in action, the Clippers should have the star power and depth to be competitive against the Suns. He finished the season as the Clippers' leading scorer (23.8 points per game), and his teammates Leonard and Westbrook are peaking at the right time. Given the mystery surrounding both teams, Clippers versus Suns could be the most intriguing matchup of the first round.

The Clippers and Suns face off in the first game of their best-of-seven series on Sunday, April 16th.

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