Just when you think there couldn’t be any more injuries in this year’s playoffs, some huge news broke this morning.
Breaking: Kawhi Leonard is expected to miss Game 5 with a right knee injury, sources told @ramonashelburne and @WindhorstESPN.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 16, 2021
Leonard tweaked his knee late in Game 4 and he could be out for the remainder of the series. pic.twitter.com/0WBGWLtjSA
Kawhi appeared to have tweaked his right knee on a drive late in the game Monday night, and came up hobbling a bit. You could tell it was bothering him, but he shot his free-throws, remained in the game for a little bit and then came out. Post game he told reporters he would be alright. According to a report by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Kawhi told his teammates yesterday that they would need to prepare to play without him.
This is...huge news. There could not be a more impactful player in this series go down for injury. Kawhi is everything for the Clippers. He’s what puts the fear of God in you while watching him play against your favorite team. Without him, the odds of the Clippers winning two out of three games against the Jazz seems very steep. Still possible, obviously, but steep. Paul George has been playing great the last two games, but it will be a different story without Kawhi there to spell his offensive threat.
In another huge story that might impact the Jazz later on, Chris Paul has entered the league’s COVID-19 protocol and is out indefinitely.
The Suns are waiting on the Jazz-Clips series to start their Western Conference Finals, and it is undetermined how much time Chris Paul will be unavailable for. If the Jazz close this series out in 6 games, which they probably should without Kawhi, their series would finish Friday night. That would most likely mean the first game of the Western Conference Finals would be Monday or Tuesday at the latest. If Chris Paul misses a week, he could miss the first two games of the WCF, which would be massive.
It’s been a busy morning for NBA news and it’s not even 9:30. Jazz-Clippers game 5 tips off at 8:00 PM tonight.