Previewing the 4 known NBA playoff matchups, including the Nuggets 2nd rd opponents

Phoenix Suns v Minnesota Timberwolves
Phoenix Suns v Minnesota Timberwolves / David Berding/GettyImages
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4 Los Angeles Clippers vs 5 Dallas Mavericks

Part three of this trilogy is set up to be a classic and maybe the most anticipated series. But sadly, the big question here is the health of Kawhi Leonard. He’s been ominously absent with knee soreness and the team has been noncommittal on his status. I have a bad feeling about this and I’m terrified we may not see Leonard to start the series - if at all.

If that’s the case, then the Clippers are in big trouble and would be hard-pressed to win more than a game or two against the red-hot Mavs. But if we get good news and Kawhi is good to go, this should be an awesome series.

The Clippers won the first two playoff meetings, but Luka was amazing and pushed those series’ much further than expected. This time he has a worthy running mate in Kyrie Irving, multiple solid big men in Dereck Lively II and Daniel Gafford, and some guys who can hit shots and play some defense with Maxi Kleber, PJ Washington, and Dante Exum.

The Clippers have the guys to throw at Luke with Paul George, Kawhi, Terrance Mann, and others, but they haven’t slowed him down in the past. The Mavs will have a tougher time matching up on the other end but they have reliable rim protection and an advantage down low.

This is another series that will be a fascinating back-and-forth if both teams are healthy. These may be the two best teams in the West other than the Nuggets, so to see one knocked out in the first round is great news for Denver fans. This feels like the year for Dallas to finally get over the hump but I just can’t pick against a healthy Kawhi.

The pick: Clippers in 7 (if Kawhi is healthy…otherwise Mavs in 6)