According to the LA Times’ Andrew Grief, Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard is out Saturday morning vs the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Clippers have a Saturday/Sunday back-to-back, so it was assumed that Leonard would miss one of the weekend’s games for load management reasons. Leonard famously does not play back-to-back games to prevent injury.

Without Leonard, point guard Patrick Beverley (who the team is cautiously allowing to fully recover from some calf soreness), and center Montrezl Harrell (who is not currently with the team due to a family matter), LAC will be quite shorthanded against the Blazers Saturday morning. Look for Reggie Jackson and Landry Shamet to start at guard alongside normal starters Paul George, Marcus Morris, and Ivica Zubac.

It’s also possible that Lou Williams will start to spark the Clippers’ offense. If not, look for Williams to be joined in the second unit by regulars Patrick Patterson and JaMychal Green as well as a combination of perimeter reserves Terance Mann, Amir Coffey, and Rodney McGruder. Because the Blazers play quite big, with Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic, the Clippers could use this experimental game to give more minutes to Joakim Noah on the bench as well.

There was some speculation that the Clippers would concede this game to Portland in order to better help the Blazers (the consensus toughest potential first-round opponent for the LA Lakers) reach the 8th seed–a move I disagree with because of its potential ramifications on the battle for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th between the Clippers, Denver Nuggets, and Houston Rockets. However, Leonard’s rest doesn’t necessarily indicate that the Clippers won’t try to win this game–they’re 7-7 in the 14 games he’s missed this season, and played many of those while Paul George was injured.

With a healthy George and the majority of the Clippers’ rotation playing around him, LAC could still win this game. If they are throwing it, it won’t be by resting their entire starting lineup as the Utah Jazz recently did, but more like the Milwaukee Bucks’ game against the Brooklyn Nets where the starters played, but only in the first half, and every reserve down the bench played double-digit minutes.

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Lucas Hann

Lucas Hann

Lucas has covered the Clippers since 2011, and has been credentialed by the team since 2014. He co-founded 213Hoops with Robert Flom in January 2020.  He is a graduate of Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, CA and St. John's University in Queens, NY.  He earned his MA in Communication and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University.

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