If Paul George is to return this season, the Los Angeles Clippers cannot afford a first-round exit in the playoffs.

George suffered a scary fall during last week's 101-100 defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder with fans around the league dreading it would be a season-ending injury or even worse.

The good news was PG didn't tear anything and only suffered a sprained knee with an expected timetable of two to three weeks before being re-evaluated. It was also believed he could be available for the Clippers for the first round of the playoffs in what was a best-case scenario.

However, it now appears George will only be available for selection should L.A. get out of the first round.

“The Clippers believe, I'm told, they're going to have to get out of the first round for a real window for Paul George to return,” NBA insider Shams Charania said on FanDuel TV. “… You get out of the first round and you give yourself a chance to get Paul George back.”

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George returning during the first round was always a long shot and while their task will be made much harder without him, the expectation for Ty Lue's men was always to win a first championship.

It's not the first time the Clippers have had to deal with an injury to one of their stars during the postseason either.

Kawhi Leonard got injured during the first round of the 2021 playoffs. George and company picked up the slack as they reached a franchise-first conference finals that year.

It now appears Leonard will have to pick up the slack this time. The first round of the NBA playoffs begin on April 15.