The Clippers are being cautious with Kawhi Leonard (foot injury recovery) as the playoffs near, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com details. Los Angeles has maintained a minutes restriction for Leonard, who logged 36 minutes in a loss against the Knicks on Sunday afternoon. It was the most playing time Leonard had seen in over a month.
“Right now, Kawhi just can’t play a full quarter, so he can’t play the whole 12-minute stint,” coach Tyronn Lue said when asked about Leonard and Paul George occasionally sitting on the bench together for stretches. “Without having him, it kind of messes up our rotations a little bit.
“So that is where we insert Terance Mann or Luke Kennard in that position and just kind of go from there. But once [Leonard] is cleared to be able to play the whole quarter, we will go back to him finishing the first and third and letting PG play with the second unit to start the quarter.”
Despite the Clippers’ plan, Leonard has assured the team that he’s in good health and is ready to play. The 2019 NBA Finals MVP has led L.A. to a 45-23 record through 68 games, good for the third-best in the West.
There’s more from the Southwest Division tonight:
- The Kings‘ playoff-style game against the Spurs on Friday will help the team in the long run, Jason Jones of The Athletic writes. Sacramento lost the contest 113-104, but the team played meaningful basketball and fought for playoff positioning in the Western Conference. A win would’ve brought the club to 1.5 games behind San Antonio for the No. 10 seed.
- The Lakers‘ future is now in peril, Mark Whicker of the Orange Country Register writes. Los Angeles is dealing with the uncertain status of LeBron James (ankle) and currently holds the No. 7 seed in the West, trailing the No. 6 seed Blazers by 1.5 games. The team could be forced to compete in the play-in tournament due to an injury-plagued season.
- Despite seeing his team slip to the No. 7 spot on Friday against Portland, Lakers star Anthony Davis put forth an impressive performance in the loss, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. Davis provided the Lakers with some hope in his best game since returning from injury, finishing with 36 points, 12 rebounds and five assists, an encouraging sign for the potential play-in and postseason.