NBA playoffs: Kawhi Leonard out for Clippers' crucial Game 6 vs. Mavericks

The Los Angeles Clippers face playoff elimination in Friday’s Game 6 versus the Dallas Mavericks. Kawhi Leonard once again won’t be in the Clippers’ lineup with their season on the line, according to several reports.

The Mavs hold a 3-2 lead in their first-round NBA playoff series after blowing out the Clippers, 123–93, in Game 5 on Wednesday.

Leonard has only played in Games 2 and 3 of the series while dealing with right knee inflammation. (The knee is the same on which Leonard had surgery in 2021.) Even when the veteran star has been able to play, he hasn’t been effective, scoring a combined 24 points in his two games on 11-for-24 shooting. The Clippers lost both games.

Before Game 4, Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank told reporters that he didn’t know when Leonard would be able to play again. Only when the six-time All-Star could move on the court as needed would the team allow him to return.

“He’s not playing today. He wants to play, but it was obvious in Game 3 that his mobility was severely restricted,” Frank said. “So organizationally, we just made a decision, he’s out.”

“When is he coming back? Can’t tell you a timeline,” he added. “I wish I had a crystal ball, it will just basically — until he can show that he can make all the movements that he needs to make, that’s when he’ll come back. That will be the timeframe.”

If the Clippers force a Game 7, it’s scheduled for Sunday in Los Angeles. Leonard’s availability would have to be doubtful at best on such a short timeline.

Prior to the playoffs, Leonard had been sidelined since March 31, missing the Clippers’ final eight regular season games and Game 1 of the series with the Mavericks. During the regular season, he averaged 23.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.

In addition to Leonard, Los Angeles also won’t have Terance Mann available due to a lower right leg contusion. Mann had started the previous five games in the series, averaging 8.4 points and 4.8 rebounds.

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