Just before the San Antonio Spurs tipped off their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, ESPN’s Lisa Salters reported that Kawhi Leonard could be back next week.

Salters cited sources that say that Kawhi’s first game back will be when the Spurs host the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, March 15.

That would give Kawhi and the Spurs 14 games to not just prepare for the playoffs but make sure that San Antonio qualifies for the postseason.

At this point, the Spurs aren’t a guarantee for the playoffs. Yes, going into Saturday night’s contest against the Thunder, the 37-28 Spurs were only two losses behind the No. 3 seed Portland Trail Blazers (40-26). But San Antonio was also just two losses ahead of the Denver.

With 30 losses, the Nuggets are the out of the playoff picture as of Saturday night.

How quickly Kawhi would be able to get back to playing 30 minutes a game and not have to take any games off besides the only back-to-back set the Spurs have left on their schedule (April 3 and 4 on the road against the Clippers and Lakers) is a mystery.

Not to mention that the Western Conference is as loaded and deep as it’s ever been.

But for now, the countdown is on and the Spurs need to continue to play with urgency so that Kawhi return is for naught and they miss the playoff despite getting their franchise player back.