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Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard officially out for Game 1 vs. Mavericks

NBA: Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers

Apr 12, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George (13, left) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2, center) and guard James Harden (1, right) watch the game from the bench during the third quarter against the Utah Jazz at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — This isn’t a surprise since he was still dealing with inflammation a couple of days ago, but now it is official.

Kawhi Leonard is out for the Clippers’ Game 1 vs. the Mavericks on Sunday due to right knee inflammation, coach Tyronn Lue confirmed.

It’s hard to be optimistic about him returning for Game 2 on Tuesday.

“I’m not sure,” Lue said when asked if Leonard could be out for the next game. “He’s been on the court the last couple of days, and we’re not sure. We’re just taking it day by day.”

Has Leonard gone through contact when on the court?

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

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said his team did prep for both if Leonard was going to play or sit out, adding it changes some of the matchups but not the overall strategy of how they want to attack the Clippers.

Leonard has been out since March 31 with swelling and inflammation in a knee that has had ACL and meniscus surgery in the past.

Leonard played in 68 games this season and is nearly a lock to make an All-NBA Team because of his performance, averaging 23.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists a night while playing quality defense. He missed the final eight games of the season due to the swelling.

The Clippers went 4-1 in the first five games Leonard was out in April, with quality wins against Denver and Phoenix. With their seeding largely settled, the Clippers packed it in the season’s final three games.