NBA fans hoping to see an exciting game of dynamic duos on Tuesday night were immediately disappointed.
Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard has been barred from a nationally televised game against the Celtics due to back spasms. The 29-year-old was seen warming up at TD Garden but left the pitch shortly before the reveal. During the first quarter, Los Angeles officially announced that Leonard would not be available.
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Reggie Jackson replaced Leonard in the Clippers’ starting lineup, joining Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Nicolas Batum and Serge Ibaka. In a mid-game interview with TNT analyst Grant Hill, Clippers coach Tyronn Lue stressed that no player would be able to fill the void left by Leonard.
“[We can’t] try to do it by ourselves. [It’s] do it in committee, “Lue said.” Reggie did a good job. [George] got off to a good start. I just have to be better defensively. “
This is the Celtics-Clippers’ second game this season that failed to deliver a battle between George and Leonard against Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. George and Brown attended the only other meeting between Boston and Los Angeles last month. Brown and Tatum were both active for Tuesday’s game, but George was forced to carry the offensive charge without Leonard in the first half, scoring 21 points on 8 of 13 shots.
Leonard has now missed eight games this season: one game with back spasms, two games with a mouth laceration, two games under health and safety protocols and three games with a leg contusion. He averages 26.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game, and he was named an All-Star starter last month.