Clippers forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are expected to play during Wednesday’s Staples Center matchup against Boston in what would be the first time the team’s prized offseason additions have played together, a person with knowledge of the matter confirmed.
George missed the Clippers’ first 11 games while recovering from offseason surgery on both shoulders before debuting Nov. 14. Leonard missed that game and two more since with a left knee contusion suffered Nov. 13 against Houston.
The matchup with the Celtics (11-2) offers an intriguing test for the All-Star combination, should both play. Boston ranks first in offensive rating, ninth in defensive rating and boasts its own long-armed, rangy duo in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
Opponents have defended both Leonard and George with double-teams, but the Celtics would be the first team this season to contend with both on the floor at the same time. George has averaged 29.3 points on 56% shooting (and 52.2% on three-pointers) in his first three games, and Leonard has averaged 26.8 points and a career-best 6.0 assists on 44% shooting this season.
“Well, you can’t do that,” George said Monday, asked whether he believed teams would try to double-team with both in the lineup. “That is what is going to be tough. You can’t shrink the floor when you got me, Lou [Williams], Kawhi, [Montrezl Harrell]. You just can’t shrink the floor.
“There is no way that guys can take themselves out of the play defensively and try to faceguard. You just can’t do that because Lou, Kawhi or myself, whoever is getting that type of defense, we are going to pick you apart and make plays offensively.”
The Clippers have outscored opponents by 13.4 points per 100 possessions when Leonard is on the floor, and by 21.1 when George has played.