The Los Angeles Clippers star isn’t going to have any restrictions placed on him for their first eight seeding games at Walt Disney World either, coach Doc Rivers said.
He just isn’t quite sure how he’s going to use Leonard — who frequently sat during back-to-back games this season while dealing with a knee injury — during that time.
“No limits. Kawhi is healthy for the most part,” Rivers said, via ESPN. “That still doesn’t mean that we don’t want to maintain him and get him through the first eight games and get ready for the playoffs. We want to be smart about this.”
Leonard was averaging a career-high 26.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for the Clippers this season, his first after leading the Toronto Raptors to a title last year.
Though plenty across the league, including Leonard, are a bit rusty headed into Florida — it’s been more than four months since play was initially suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic — Leonard thinks he used his time off well and got stronger.
While it’s not quite the same thing, he plans to use the next few weeks in Florida like he would a preseason training camp. Depending on how that goes, he said, will determine how he’s used early in the restart.
“You usually have three months and then come in for a training camp, have a couple practices, then you’ve got the preseason games,” Leonard said, via ESPN. “That’s pretty much the mindset. But like everybody knows, you only get eight games to get ready for the postseason. But pretty much just take that same timeline to prepare yourself.
“Everybody knows their body and knows what they need to do, so I mean, it’s going to be my first practice today, so we’re going to go out and see how I feel and then just go from there, just keep building off of that. But nobody knows.”
The Clippers, at 44-20, boast the second-best record in the Western Conference headed into the restart, and have long been favorites to claim the title this season.
It won’t be the same as a normal year, and many may view the 2020 champion differently, but Leonard is still here for it — and more ready to make a run.
“Everybody is happy that a championship will be crowned this year, and if that’s the 2020 championship, then we want it,” he said, via ESPN. “You know, that’s how I look at it. This is what the layout is, as far as to go out there and complete this journey.”
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