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USATSI

The Los Angeles Clippers are one of the hottest teams in the NBA. After a bumpy start, they've won seven games in a row and are tied with the Lakers for the best record in the Western Conference. That perch is going to be tested in the coming days, though, as both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have been ruled out for Tuesday's game against the Atlanta Hawks due to the league's health and safety protocols and did not travel with the team to Atlanta, according to ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk

The Clippers are about to embark on a six-game road trip through the Eastern Conference that begins in Atlanta on Tuesday. They will then swing through Florida to face the Heat and Magic and then New York to take on the Knicks and Nets before closing the trip with a matchup against the Cavaliers. According to Youngmisuk, Leonard and George could rejoin the team at some point during the road trip depending on the extent of the protocols. 

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The Clippers had largely avoided absences due to the league's health and safety protocols this season. Marcus Morris missed time due to injury, but otherwise, the bulk of the rotation has appeared in 15 or more of the team's 17 games thus far this season. But Los Angeles County has been devastated by COVID-19 lately, and given what has happened around the league, it was only a matter of time before the Clippers were affected, though the exact nature of these absences is not yet known. 

The Clippers sacrificed quite a bit of depth in reshaping this season's roster. Without George and Leonard, finding wins on this trip will be difficult. Hopefully, the two are able to return promptly and help the Clippers maintain their recent stretch of excellence.