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Is Kawhi Leonard Playing vs Rockets? Coach Ty Lue Addresses Clippers Star’s Return Before Playoffs

Published 04/13/2024, 7:57 AM EDT

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Playing without Kawhi Leonard last night, the Los Angeles Clippers lost a close game to the Utah Jazz, 109-110. The Clippers (51-30) have already clinched their division and have solidified a home court advantage for the playoffs. However, now, as one game remains for the regular season’s end, -against Houston Rockets (40-41)- the return of their star forward remains in question.

With the postseason closing in, head coach Tyronn Lue was seen addressing questions about Kawhi Leonard’s presence for the Clippers’ clash against the Rockets. As Brad Tuner questioned, “Will Kawhi Leonard play Sunday?”, Lue tried to cloak the info, “That is what we want to see,” he said, playing with the fans and media alike. However, when inquired again, Lue gave up, saying, “Hopefully he will be playing, yes sir.” If that reigns true, Kawhi will mark his return to the court after an 8-game absence.

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The 2-time Champion has been out since the month’s beginning due to a knee inflammation. It is a common occurrence within the surgically repaired areas of a players’ body. Moreover, Lue claims that Kawhi’s injury won’t be extending to the post-season. Now, as Kawhi marks his return to as a warm-up game before the playoffs, the Clippers will be in almost complete health.

As per the Clippers’ latest injury report, they could only see Joshua Primo on the list. The Canadian player has not seen the court since late March due to a left ankle sprain.

On the Rockets end, the roster harbors voids left by Steven Adams (knee), Tari Eason (out for the season due to surgery), Alperen Sengun (unlikely to play), Jae’Sean Tate (out for the season; ankle). Moreover, Fred VanVleet was listed out of the Friday’s game due to a hip contusion. Without an upgrade in VanVleet’s status, their injury report is likely to remain the same.

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Los Angeles Clippers vs the Houston Rockets this season

The Clippers and Rockets have faced off twice this season, with both of the game siding in Clippers’ benefit. The two faced once during the Clippers’ struggling November stretch (106-100 on November 17), while the second one came in during Russell Westbrook‘s absence on March 6th (122-116).

The initial game saw VanVleet, Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun spearhead the offensive end for the Rockets, combining for 61 points. On the other hand, 4 of Clippers starters notched double digit points, scoring 85 on nearly 57% shooting.

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As the Rockets replicated the same in March, all their starters and sixth man Cam Whitmore posted double digit scoring (99 points of near 47% shooting). However, the young guns were no match to PG, Harden and Leonard. The Clippers shared the ball for just 19 assists throughout the game, as their star-trio erupted for 70 combined points. Moreover, Terance Mann posted 15 points on 100% shooting.

While the Clippers hold a favorable chance against the Rockets, with or without Leonard, the forward’s 21.4 points and 7.8 rebounds playoff average is the run the team will look ahead to seek help of.

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Written by:

Saahil Dhillan

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Saahil Dhillan is an NBA Writer at EssentiallySports who discovered his basketball passion through the dynamic between Miami's LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Years later, Kobe Bryant reignited his love, transforming him into an extensive contributor who savors the matches, covers games live, analyzes post-game pressers, and reports on injuries. With his stories, he aims at making readers feel the intense drama unfolding on the court every day.
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Edited by:

Shivatmika Manvi