It came down to the absolute wire, but Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers are going to play Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs.
The Clippers defeated the Suns on the final day of the NBA season, which secured them into the fifth overall seed in the West. Phoenix had already locked in the fourth seed in the West, so they didn’t have anything to play for on Sunday.
OFFICIAL: Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers will face Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns in the 2023 NBA Playoffs.
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) April 9, 2023
Game 1 between the Clippers and Suns will be Sunday, April 16th. The schedule for the remainder of the NBA playoffs will be announced at a later date, likely once some of the play-in opponents are determined.
“It took all we had,” Kawhi Leonard said on reaching the playoffs on the final day of the regular season. “Guys in and out all season, guys focusing up towards the end of the year and we were able to get some wins, but it’s not over yet.
“It feels good. We got a challenge ahead of us. We gotta be prepared and ready to go because they got a great team over there.”
— Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) April 9, 2023
The 2023 postseason will mark the first for Kawhi Leonard since 2021, when he suffered a torn ACL in the second round against the Utah Jazz. This time around, the team will be without Paul George, at least until he can make his return from a sprained right knee.
At this time, Paul George is the only Clippers player expected to miss some time, if not the entire series. George is recovering from a right knee sprain suffered on March 21st against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Suns, meanwhile, are expected to be at full strength despite only having Kevin Durant play in eight games since he was acquired in a mid-season trade with the Brooklyn Nets. While eight isn’t a lot, it is worth mentioning that the Suns are undefeated when Durant plays and pose a difficult challenge for the Clippers.
“We’re not there yet, but that’s the challenge we have ahead of ourselves,” Kawhi Leonard added. “They’ve got some talented guys that can score the ball, pass, and play both ends, so we’re gonna have to give it our all.
“We gotta look at the film but they got a lot of great players, got a good group of role players that are buying in, so it’s gonna take all we have.”
Game 1’s tipoff has yet to be announced, but will be on Sunday.
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