Clippers Notes: Leonard, Harden, Playoffs, Brown

Kawhi Leonard‘s status remains uncertain, but coach Tyronn Lue is preparing for him to be ready when the Clippers open their first-round series with Dallas on Sunday, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Leonard, who missed the last eight games of the regular season due to inflammation in his right knee, hasn’t played since March 31.

Before today’s practice, Lue told reporters that the medical staff would determine how much Leonard would be permitted to do during the session. Team doctors were also monitoring Leonard to see how his knee responded after taking part in a quarter of Tuesday’s practice.

Lue added that Leonard is making progress, but there’s still not a set timetable for his return.

“Letting medical take over, and whatever is the best thing for Kawhi, making sure you protect him first,” Lue said. “But whatever is best for him is what we’re going to do. Not sure of the minutes yet, or how long he’ll be able to play. So we just kind of wait and take it day by day.”

There’s more on the Clippers:

  • James Harden is confident that he’ll be ready for the playoff opener after missing three of the team’s last four games with inflammation in his right foot, Youngmisuk adds. Harden is hoping to change his playoff reputation in L.A. after a recent history of sub-par performances. “I mean I always want to play well in the playoffs,” Harden said. “I’ve had some not great games, but I have some really good games. So for me, I think the goal is to win, and that’s the only thing that I’m missing at the highest level as far as my NBA career. Of course, I want to play well individually and then I want our team to play well. So I think it’s my job as one of the leaders on this team is to make sure our guys are fulfilling their potential and maximizing what they bring to our team to the best of their ability, game by game.”
  • Harden expects everyone to be more focused now that the playoffs have arrived and wasn’t bothered that Lue called the team “soft” a few weeks ago (video link from Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints). “We’re still a fairly new group,” he said. “… For me, I think it’s just not getting bored with the game, find ways to keep getting better, even when you feel like it’s a tough game or opponent might not be as good, you might not feel the best. … Now we’re locked in on one opponent.”
  • Kobe Brown is looking forward to his first NBA postseason, per Janis Carr of The Orange County Register, who talked to Brown after last Friday’s game when the Clippers returned to the locker room to find thick scouting reports on the Mavericks on their chairs. “I’m really excited to see what it’s like,” Brown said. “We already got the playoff scouting report or whatever it is. Big packet that I’ve never had before. It’s going to be fun, exciting … I want to see how far we go. Hopefully, we can win it all. It will be fun.”
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