Kawhi Leonard Ruled Out For Clippers-Mavericks Game 1

Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters that All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard has officially been ruled out for the first game of L.A.’s first round playoff series against the Mavericks this afternoon, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link).

This isn’t exactly a surprise, as the prospects for Leonard’s return from right knee inflammation had looked bleak as recently as yesterday.

When healthy this season, the two-time Finals MVP has looked like the same lethal two-way powerhouse he’s been for the past decade or so. Across 68 games in 2023/24, Leonard averaged 23.7 PPG on .525/.417/.885 shooting, along with 6.1 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 0.9 BPG.

Lue did not divulge who will replace Leonard in his starting lineup, tweets Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. Veteran forward P.J. Tucker started in Leonard’s stead during the Clippers’ penultimate game of the regular season (Lue started backups in the season finale).

Mark Medina of The Sporting News reports (via Twitter) that Lue is uncertain if Leonard will be available for Game 2 on Tuesday night. In fact, it remains unclear if the 6’7″ swingman will even get the green light for contact workouts this week, according to Medina (Twitter link).

“We haven’t gotten that far yet,” Lue said.

The 51-31 Clippers, the Western Conference’s No. 4 seed, will host the 50-32 Mavericks at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles for the first two contests of the series before it moves to Dallas. The two clubs have twice previously squared off against each other in the first round of the playoffs since Leonard joined L.A. as a free agent, in 2020 and ’21. The Clippers won both encounters.

In other injury news, Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd has revealed that swingman Tim Hardaway Jr., who had been questionable to play due to an illness, will suit up, Medina tweets.

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