The Los Angeles Clippers are the latest team to be bit by the playoff injury bug. Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard is out indefinitely after suffering a knee injury in Game 4. Brian Windhorst of ESPN was the first to report around 9 am Wednesday that Leonard was expected to miss Game 5 and that Leonard’s status for the rest of the series, is in doubt. Then around 11:50 am, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Leonard is out indefinitely with a right knee sprain. With the series tied 2-2 and Game 5 in Utah, the Clippers’ hopes of winning a championship are in jeopardy.
Kawhi Leonard Expected to Miss Game 5, Out Indefinitely
The Events Leading to Leonard’s Status
In Game 4 against the Utah Jazz Monday night, Leonard injured his knee on a drive to the basket in the fourth quarter. He subbed out of the rest of the game after trying to play on it. After the Clippers 118-104 win, Leonard told TNT that his knee was “good”. However, reports tell otherwise. Windhorst also reported that Leonard told the team last night to prepare for his absence.
Leonard told teammates last night to prepare for him to be out.
He landed awkwardly on a drive in the fourth quarter and grimaced in pain Monday night. He briefly stayed in game but didn’t finish as the Clippers secured the win to even series 2-2.
— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) June 16, 2021
Leonard is averaging 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 2.1 steals per game in the playoffs. When the Clippers were down 0-2 against the Jazz and Dallas Mavericks, he delivered. Leonard averaged 32.5 points and shot over 62 percent from the field in Games 3 and 4 of both series.
Where The Clippers Stand In The Playoffs
Losing Kawhi Leonard in the playoffs, especially in the semifinals is detrimental to the Clippers. He is a star that is irreplaceable in terms of his offensive and defensive abilities. Even though the Clippers got through the first round against the Dallas Mavericks, it was Leonard whose contributions helped them get through the long seven-game series. The Mavericks are not like the Jazz, and even though Mike Conley has been out for Utah for a while, they still have a reliable star in Donovan Mitchell. He has been giving the Clippers problems in this series.
The only way for the Clippers to get through the Jazz and compete for a title is for everyone else to contribute: Luke Kennard, Nicolas Batum, Reggie Jackson, and especially Paul George. If eyes weren’t already on George, they are on him now more than ever. He is the only other star besides Kawhi Leonard that needs to deliver for the Clippers. And while the nickname “Pandemic P” still gets thrown at him, George is no stranger to putting a team on his back when needed. His 31 point performance in Game 4 at home helped the Clippers tie the series. His overall playoff numbers, averaging 24.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists have helped the team get this far in the playoffs. As a lot is at stake for the Clippers, expect coach Tyronn Lue to make adjustments in the lineup.
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