2024 Playoffs: West First Round | Clippers (4) vs. Mavericks (5)

Kawhi Leonard (right knee inflammation) sits out Clippers' Game 1 win

Kawhi Leonard missed the Clippers' series opener against the Mavericks on Sunday due to knee inflammation. LA won anyway.

The Clippers managed to strike first in their first-round series against Dallas despite the absence of Kawhi Leonard.

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LOS ANGELES — Kawhi Leonard did not play in the LA Clippers’ series-opening win over the Dallas Mavericks due to inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee. Coach Tyronn Lue confirmed that Leonard wasn’t available nearly two hours before tipoff.

Although Leonard has done some shooting the last couple of days, he still hasn’t participated in contact practices.

“He’s progressing,” Lue said. “Just taking it day-by-day.”

The Clippers managed just fine without him in Game 1, never trailing and leading by as many as 29 points. LA’s other highly decorated starters, James Harden and Paul George, stepped up in Leonard’s place by combining for 50 points. Ivica Zubac added 20 points and 15 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Clippers, who seek to advance past the first round for the first time since 2021.

Game 2 is Tuesday in Los Angeles (10 ET, TNT).

Leonard has been out since March 31 after playing 68 games during the season, his most as a Clipper. The All-Star forward averaged 23.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists.

Last season, Leonard played in the first game of the playoffs against the Phoenix Suns before missing the final three games with a torn meniscus in his right knee.

In the 2021 playoffs, Leonard sprained his knee against Utah in the Western Conference Semifinals. The Clippers beat the Jazz and advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time, losing to the Phoenix Suns in six games.

He then missed all of the 2021-22 season after recovering from a partial tear of the ACL in his right knee.

In January, Leonard signed a contract extension with the Clippers that will pay him $153 million over the next three years.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.