The Los Angeles Clippers may have to play their playoff opener against the Dallas Mavericks without Kawhi Leonard

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Kawhi Leonard

It’s playoff time in the NBA, and the Los Angeles Clippers have a lineup that includes four potential Hall of Famers. However, as they gear up for their first-round matchup against Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks, only three of them are fully fit.

Kawhi Leonard has been grappling with what the team describes as “very, very stubborn inflammation” in his right knee, which was previously operated on. He hasn’t been able to join in contact practices and hasn’t played since March 31.

Teammate Paul George expressed optimism, saying, “I do think, at some point, he’ll be with us. Kawhi wants to be in this more than anybody.” But it doesn’t seem likely for Game 1 on Sunday.

Coach Tyronn Lue has prepared a replacement starter if Leonard can’t play, although he hasn’t revealed who it is.

Lue stated, “The guys are prepared. This is what you play for, to reach this moment and have an opportunity to compete for a championship. It’s up to everyone to deliver.”

Last year, George was injured and missed the final nine games of the regular season and the playoffs, resulting in the Clippers being eliminated in the first round, losing to Phoenix in five games.

Dallas Mavericks

Reflecting on their injury woes, George remarked, “We’ve just been unfortunate with staying healthy.”

Now, they’re up against Dallas for the third time in five years. The Clippers defeated Dallas in six games during the bubble in 2020 and won a crucial Game 7 at home in 2021.

The Mavericks, seeded fifth, are favored by 2.5 points in Game 1, according to BetMGM Sportsbook. Dallas boasts its own group of potential Hall of Famers in Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

“They’re going to put points on the board,” noted Clippers guard James Harden, “but we need to make it tough for them on every possession.” The Clippers won two out of three games against Dallas this season.

“We’ve always believed we have enough talent to win regardless of who’s available or not. This is a highly skilled group,” George emphasized. “I think we’re solid in terms of sticking together.”


By Robert Jackson

An avid football fan (A red). And an Otaku by the definition of the word.

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