ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ohm Youngmisuk reported Wednesday afternoon that Kawhi Leonard is expected to return to the lineup for the Clippers’ showdown with the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on Wednesday night. Leonard has missed each of the last 3 games after suffering a knee contusion in last Wednesday’s loss to the Rockets.
So, this will be our first glimpse of Leonard and Paul George on the floor together. George has played in each of the 3 games Kawhi has missed over the last week after missing the first 11 games of the year recovering from offseason shoulder surgeries.
The Clippers have managed to hold their own despite having not played a single game with both of their new superstars together. The Clips are 9-5 on the year, and they’ve won 2 of the 3 games in which PG-13 has played. They suffered a close loss in George’s debut last Thursday in New Orleans before picking up back-to—back wins over Atlanta and Oklahoma City.
George endured an uneven performance that included 7 turnovers against the Thunder on Monday, but he did wind up drilling a crucial 3-pointer in the game’s waning moments that put the Clippers on top for good. Across his first 3 games, the Fresno State product has averaged 29.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Best of all, he’s shooting better than 56% from the field and 52% from downtown, which is a sign that his shoulders are feeling good.
George has managed to do all that damage despite averaging just over 24 minutes per game as the Clippers continue to ramp up his conditioning.
For his part, Leonard is averaging nearly 27 points along with 8.9 rebounds through his first 9 games in a Clipper uniform. Most impressively, Kawhi is averaging 6 assists per game, which would be a career-high by a massive margin for a single season if he’s able to keep it up. I doubt he’ll have as much playmaking duty now that George is back to handle more of the offensive load, but Leonard has been very good as a pick-and-roll distributor early in the year.
So, the lone Clipper that will be out of the lineup due to injury is Landry Shamet, who is still out after spraining his ankle last week. They’ll need all hands on deck, as they figure to have their hands full with a Celtics team that has gotten off to a surprisingly hot 11-2 start to the season.