The Los Angeles Clippers will have Paul George, but will not have Kawhi Leonard against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat on Thursday night.

The team announced that Leonard would miss the game as part of his injury management program and it being the second-half of a back-to-back set. The Clippers played Wednesday night against the Orlando Magic, but lost in overtime, 116-111.

Paul George will play Thursday after playing 33 minutes on Wednesday night. Luke Kennard, who dealt with a calf injury, and Marcus Morris, who missed the last game with a non-covid illness, will also both return against the Heat.

Unfortunately, both Leonard and George had minutes restrictions met against the Magic, forcing them to sit the overtime frame. Kawhi Leonard checked back in with one minute left in the extra session since he had one additional minute left in his restriction.

Following the game, Leonard and George expressed some frustrations with their minutes cap in a very winnable game.

“Well, we understand that and we understand that we’ve got to protect them from themselves and be smart about it,” head coach Tyronn Lue said on Thursday on Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. “As much as those guys want to play, we’ve got to make sure they don’t play and end up get injured because they’re over-exerting energy and doing things their bodies aren’t accustomed to because they’ve been out for so long.

“I know they wanted to play, but I just took the lead and said, ‘no this is it. We should’ve played when we was up 18.’ You know? We could’ve won the game and it wouldn’t have been a factor, but with that being said, we just got to be smart. Our medical staff does a great job of letting us know exactly how many minutes they can play and if they can push it a little bit, they’ll let them push it a little bit, but it is what it is.”

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The Clippers have won five of the seven games they’ve played with Kawhi Leonard this season. In those seven appearances this season, Leonard is averaging 11.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists on 40 percent shooting from the field. There’s been a lot of rust to knock off with Leonard, especially considering he’s now had three different returns from injury this season.

“I’ve become the minutes monitor throughout the last couple of years,” Lue added. “It’s tough at times because you get in a good rhythm and a flow of the game and guys gotta come out and you gotta bring other guys back in. When a certain group is playing well, you gotta kind of break that up.

“The last two games, I’ve been able to coach off a card. I’ve never done it before, with minutes, when to get guys in and get guys out. It’s something new to me. I usually go off feel, but it wasn’t bad.”

For Thursday night’s game, the Clippers will start Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Nicolas Batum, Marcus Morris, and Ivica Zubac. The Miami Heat will start Dru Smith, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Caleb Martin, and Bam Adebayo.