As the Los Angeles Clippers gear up for Game 1 of the Western Conference playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks, the question of Kawhi Leonard’s participation continues to loom. Leonard, who missed the last eight games of the regular season due to inflammation in his right knee, has rejoined the team for practice, but it’s unclear if he will hit the court for Sunday’s game at Arena.

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue provided an update on Leonard’s involvement in Tuesday’s practice session, the team’s first in preparation for the playoffs. “He’s going to be a part of practice,” Lue said, although he clarified that Leonard would only participate in about a quarter of the activities. This cautious approach stems from Leonard’s lack of game action since March 31, as the team aims to ease him back into play gradually.

The uncertainty surrounding Leonard’s readiness for the playoff opener was echoed by Lue’s non-committal response to whether the two-time NBA champion would play against the Mavericks. “We’ll see,” Lue remarked, acknowledging the need to ramp up Leonard’s activity carefully before making a final decision.

Leonard’s potential absence could be significant for the Clippers as they face a formidable Mavericks team, boasting talents like Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. With an average of 23.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game this season, Leonard’s performance is crucial to the Clippers’ playoff aspirations. His playoff pedigree is well-documented, notably highlighted by his 2019 NBA Finals MVP award during his tenure with the Toronto Raptors.

The Clippers are also grappling with internal challenges, notably comments from teammates Paul George and James Harden questioning the team’s identity. Lue has since addressed these concerns, emphasizing a renewed focus on physicality, pacing, and execution which has resulted in the Clippers winning seven of their last eight games.

Beyond the immediate playoff concerns, Leonard has also committed to represent the USA at the Paris Games, joining a star-studded lineup that includes LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant. This commitment to the national team underscores his ongoing influence and importance in the basketball world.

As the Clippers continue their playoff preparations, all eyes will be on Leonard’s health and readiness to contribute to what promises to be an intensely competitive series against the Mavericks.



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