Lue, Clippers still don't know Leonard's status for Round 1

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- While the LA Clippers have listed Kawhi Leonard as questionable for Game 1 against the Dallas Mavericks, the All-Star forward's status to start the NBA playoffs remains in doubt.

Coach Ty Lue said Leonard would not go through any contact in Saturday's practice -- the team's final rehearsal before Sunday's Game 1 tip at 12:30 p.m. PT. Leonard has not played since March 31 due to inflammation in his right knee.

"He shot yesterday; he was on the floor," Lue said before the team's practice. "Today, he will be able to shoot more with a little bit more movement. And he is going to go through some of the practice as well."

Whenever a question was posed to Lue with the premise of the Clippers having to play Game 1 without Leonard, the coach responded by saying they don't yet know that they will be without their star.

Fellow All-Star Paul George, who will have to shoulder more of the load if Leonard is unable to play, said the Clippers have been "unlucky" regarding health considerations in the playoffs. Last postseason, George missed the team's first-round series against the Phoenix Suns due to injury then Leonard suffered a meniscus injury and did not play after the first two games, as the Suns took the series 4-1.

The franchise has had just one entire postseason run with both and George healthy, in 2020.

"I think from the injury standpoint, we've just been unlucky. But [we are] more so focused on [the] positive and do think at some point he'll be with us," George said of Leonard.

Leonard missed the final eight games of the regular season. Sunday's Game 1 will mark three weeks from the last time he played.

Lawrence Frank, the Clippers' president of basketball operations, said Leonard's surgically repaired right ACL and right meniscus are solid and structurally in place. But Frank characterized the inflammation as "stubborn" and "unpredictable."

Lue said he has a replacement in mind if Leonard is unavailable for Game 1. If that is the case, Lue said, the team saw what it can do when it went 4-4 without Leonard in April, beating the Denver Nuggets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Suns when the Clippers needed wins to secure the Western Conference's fourth seed.

"He is working hard," George said of Leonard. "This is Kawhi. He wants to be in this more than anybody, and so he's working hard, he's doing everything he can to be available. We all see it, the work he's putting in. When he's ready, he'll be ready."