Will Kawhi Leonard Play Tonight? LA Clippers vs Dallas Mavericks Game 1: Prediction, Injuries, & Lineups

Published 05/22/2021, 4:33 PM EDT
Feb 7, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) controls the ball against the Sacramento Kings during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports


It is a rematch from the bubble Playoffs as the Dallas Mavericks face off against a revamped LA Clippers side in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs. Their first game is scheduled to be held 4:30 PM EST.

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After being a constant in the third spot of the Western Conference, the Clippers lost their last two regular season games against the Thunder and the Rockets, respectively.

Coach Ty Lue had rested many of his key players in these matchups and has been criticized for tanking to avoid the Lakers in the very first or second round of the Playoffs.

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While Lue denied all these claims, the Clippers certainly dodged a bullet and now face the Mavericks. The Clippers will need to see out the Mavs if they want to make a statement to the league that they really are contenders.

Mar 15, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) drives to the basket as Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) defends during the second half at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

After a slow start to the season, the Mavs made a resounding comeback later in the season and clinched the fifth spot in the Western Conference. No match-up is easy in the West and the Mavs know how difficult the Clippers can be.

Last year, in the bubble, it was the health of Kristaps Porzingis that changed the series against the Clippers. The Mavs will hope that their Latvian big man and the supporting cast with the likes of Tim Hardaway Jr can step up and help the team exact revenge for last year’s Playoffs.

Predictions

The rematch between the Clippers and the Mavericks is certainly an intriguing match-up in the upcoming Playoffs. While Luka Doncic has continued his insane numbers, the Mavericks haven’t taken a significant leap this season.

Especially Kristaps Porzingis has been massively inconsistent and has been a liability at the defensive end.

Dec 27, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Luke Kennard (5) passes the ball against Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) in the first quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Clippers, meanwhile, have improved significantly this season. After a rather disappointing display at the Playoffs last season, Paul George is looking to prove his critics wrong as his scoring and his effectiveness have increased on all fronts.

The addition of Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins has also been a big plus for the Clippers this season. Given the quality of the roster and the different scoring options the Clippers have, Kawhi & Co. are clear favorites in this match-up.

LA Clippers’ injury updates and predicted lineup

The Clippers will miss a couple of players through injuries. Center DeMarcus Cousins is out with a foot injury. Apart from Cousins, Nicolas Batum might be rested against the Mavericks.

Jan 15, 2021; Sacramento, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) high fives guard-forward Nicolas Batum (33) after a play against the Sacramento Kings during the third quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Winning their first match against the Mavericks will be essential for the Clippers to set the tone for the series. Given that they a healthy lineup available, the Clippers can put an all-round display in this match-up.

Probable Lineup

Patrick Beverley (G)

Paul George (G)

Kawhi Leonard (G)

Marcus Morris Sr. (F)

Ivica Zubac (C)

Dallas Mavericks: Injury updates and expected lineup

The Mavericks will miss two key players against the Clippers. JJ Reddick is out with a heel injury and guard Tyrell Terry is sidelined from the roster due to personal reasons.

Mar 17, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Josh Richardson (0) and center Kristaps Porzingis (6) and guard Luka Doncic (77) celebrate during the third quarter against the LA Clippers at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This will be the perfect opportunity for Mavs and Kristaps Porzingis to make a statement performance against the Clippers and prove his critics wrong. Given how shaky the Clippers look after a loss, winning the first game will be essential if the Mavericks want to win the series.

Predicted Lineup

Luka Doncic (G)

Josh Richardson (G)

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Dorian Finney Smith (G)

Maxi Kleber (F)

Kristaps Porzingis (C)

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Who will win between the Dallas Mavericks and the LA Clippers? Let us know in the comments below.

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Aditya Mohapatra

857 articles

Aditya Mohapatra is a sports enthusiast who primarily covers the NBA for EssentiallySports. Having graduated in Mass Communication, he has prior experience in writing for ABP News, and has been writing for EssentiallySports since November 2020. This die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan feels that LeBron James is the best thing to have ever happened to the NBA, and will hold a healthy debate with anyone suggesting otherwise.

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