Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has acknowledged to his teammates that everyone will have to give its absolute best if they want to win games in the playoffs. The Clippers finished the regular season as the fourth seeds and for the second consecutive year they are set to face the Dallas Mavericks in the first round.
Last season, the Clippers entered the season as one of the top favorites to win it all but they ended up losing in the Western Conference Semifinals. Back then, the Clippers were up 3-1 in the series before the Denver Nuggets stormed back to win the next three games and progress into the Western Conference Finals.
"It's just about between the ears now," Leonard said when asked about the feeling among the Clippers' core entering this postseason compared to last year, per ESPN. "How much are we willing to sacrifice to get a win? How much of our mind and body are we going to put into this playoffs? That's where I'm at.
I am confident in this unit."
Leonard 'confident' in the Clippers
Clippers head coach Ty Lue has said that he the team doesn't feel the pressure to win it all because of last year. "Last year was last year," Lue said.
"We have a different team, we have a different formula, we've done things differently. Our team is healthy. We have made some changes. So we are a totally different team. That doesn't necessarily mean we are going to win a championship because of that, but we are in a different place.
"Pressure to me is something totally different. It's growing up where we come from as kids, not knowing where your next meal is from or your lights or water is going to be cut off or if someone is going to be shot on the next block over.
... If we don't play hard, don't compete and don't bring it every single night, those are things you can't live with. I don't see any pressure. I think our mindset is totally different from last year, and we are ready to go."
Leonard has suggested that he is not at 100 percent but that he will be able to play. "I feel good," Leonard said when asked about his foot. "I am ready to go. I will be capable enough to play." Leonard is confident in the team the Clippers currently have.
"I feel confident like any other year," Leonard said. "I feel like we got a good team. We got some depth on us."