Clippers-Mavericks: Kawhi Leonard taking things ‘1 game at a time’ as series moves to Dallas

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Clippers lost a nail-biting thriller in Game 2 of their playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks at home Tuesday night. For the first time since 2020, fans got to see what the Clippers look like in the postseason with a healthy Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

While that’s the narrative for many, Leonard, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, is staying locked in and taking things one day at a time.

"I don’t think of it like that," he told reporters after the game. "I’m just taking it one game at a time and about winning this series, so that’s not my thought process right now."

Leonard made his highly anticipated return after he missed the previous nine games due to inflammation in his right knee. He was a game-time decision and Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue confirmed before tip-off the six-time All-Star was cleared to play.

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The Clippers played at a noticeably slower pace than they did on Sunday afternoon when they came out firing from all cylinders. Amir Coffey started in Leonard’s place and he, along with Terance Mann, were excellent on the defensive end against Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

Leonard went scoreless in the first quarter, but in the second half, he showed promising signs and proved what is often referred to as "Playoff Kawhi," remains one of the most elite players out there.

In his return, Leonard had 15 points, 2 assists, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals in 34 minutes.

<div>Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers steals the ball from Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks in the second half of game 2 of a first round playoff NBA basketball game at Arena in Los Angeles on Tuesday, April 23, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)</div> <strong>(Getty Images)</strong>

"It’s great to have that back. But obviously, there's a little adjustment with him coming back and getting his rhythm," Paul George said after Tuesday night’s loss.

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"Y’all know this. Kawhi is one of the best in the world. He’s going to find his rhythm, we’re going to find our rhythm around him. We feel good about it," George added. "We lost which is frustrating and upsetting, but is great having 2 [Leonard] back out there with us. And we'll adjust. We’ll get our timing back, we’ll get our rhythm back."

The series moves to Dallas for Games 3 and 4 scheduled for Friday night and Sunday afternoon.

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