Clippers star will play in Game 2 vs. Mavericks after missing three weeks

Kawhi Leonard will play on Tuesday as the Los Angeles Clippers take on the Dallas Mavericks in Game 2 of their first-round series, coach Ty Lue confirmed Tuesday. Leonard last played on March 31. He has been sidelined since due to knee inflammation. Leonard has a history of lower-body injuries, and rushing him back onto the floor early risked something more serious knocking him out for far longer. Now, however, he is seemingly ready to take the court again for a Clippers team that is attempting to make its first healthy run through the postseason since 2020.

The Clippers were underdogs at home in Game 1 against the Mavericks, a team they are now facing in the postseason for the third time in five years. With Leonard out in that game, the Mavericks had a golden opportunity to steal home-court advantage with a victory and set the tone for this series before the best Clipper could make his impact felt.

But despite Leonard’s absence, the Clippers not only beat the Mavericks in the series opener, but blew them out. Dallas never led in the game, while the Clippers were ahead by as many as 29 points. A late Dallas surge wasn’t enough to make the game competitive, and the Mavericks missed their chance to gain ground on the Clippers before Leonard could return.

Still, whether or not Leonard is healthy, this series is going to be competitive. When these teams faced off in 2020, Luka Doncic pushed the Clippers to six in his first playoff appearance. A year later, he took three road games on the Clippers on Los Angeles, but lost all three of his home games in Dallas as well as Game 7 to drop the series.

Now these teams are going at it yet again, and with a number of new faces. Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and revamped supporting casts grace the rivalry this time around, but no player looms quite as large as Leonard. The two-time Finals MVP has been the obstacle that Dallas just hasn’t been able to overcome in this matchup. They’ll try to do just that on Tuesday as he returns for Game 2.

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