Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has not been ruled out for Game 1 against the Dallas Mavericks as of this story's writing. Leonard, who is dealing with a knee injury, is seemingly unlikely to play, however.

Now it goes without saying, but the Clippers are obviously a better team when Leonard is on the floor. In 2023-24, Los Angeles went 44-24 in games that Leonard appeared in, and just 7-7 when he was out. Their point differential is quite eye-opening as well.

Leonard averaged 23.7 points per outing across 68 games played. According to StatMuse, The Clippers averaged 116.2 points per game on 49.5 percent field goal and 39.2 percent three-point shooting with Leonard on the floor. He missed 14 games during the 2023-24 campaign, and the Clippers' points per game average dropped by almost four points. Los Angeles was able to produce just 112.5 points per contest on 46.1 percent field goal and 33.2 percent three-point shooting without their superstar forward.

So what does this mean for the Clippers-Mavericks Game 1 on Sunday? Well, Los Angeles happens to feature plenty of star-power. Paul George is capable of single-handedly leading his team to a win, while James Harden and Russell Westbrook are experienced stars with no shortage of playoff experience.

Still, LA will clearly miss Leonard if he is unable to play.

Kawhi Leonard's injury concern

LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots the ball against Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) during the second half at KIA Center.
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers will need Paul George to step up without Leonard. Dallas struggled on the defensive end of the floor to begin the year, but they featured one of the league's better defensive units after acquiring Daniel Gafford and PJ Washington ahead of the trade deadline.

If George struggles at all in Game 1, Dallas will be in the driver's seat. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving are going to lead the offense. Meanwhile, the defense should be able to hold things down. Gafford and Dereck Lively II offer important rim-protecting prowess, while players such as Derrick Jones Jr. and Dante Exum can guard the perimeter.

In fact, Jones recently expressed his willingness to guard the best players in the NBA. He's a terrific defender who will probably guard Leonard whenever the Clippers star ends up playing in the series.

Mavericks will not overlook Clippers regardless of Leonard's final status

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) dribbles the ball up to the court against the Sacramento Kings during the first quarter at Golden 1 Center.
Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi Leonard is an excellent player. The Mavericks are aware of how much talent this Clippers team features, though.

The Mavericks are going to do everything they can to earn the victory in Game 1 whether Leonard plays or not. Dallas is going to play hard in an effort to steal a victory on the road in Los Angeles.

The Clippers took two of three games from the Mavericks during the 2023-24 campaign. It needs to be remembered that all three of those contests were played before Dallas acquired Washington and Gafford. Dallas now features a new-look roster, something that Los Angeles has spent the last week preparing for.

In the end, LA's primary focus will be on containing Doncic and Irving. The Mavs superstars have been electric while on the floor throughout the 2023-24 campaign. Both players know what it takes to get the job done in clutch moments as well.

The entire Mavericks-Clippers series projects to be competitive, and Game 1 will be a must-watch affair.