Kawhi ruled out of Western Conference Finals

The LA Clippers faced off the Phoenix Suns without their key player Kawhi Leonard in the Western Conference Finals.

And the Clippers now will be without Leonard throughout the series against the Suns.

Kawhi Leonard suffered an injury on the Western Conference Semifinals and has not played ever since then.

He now ruled out of the remainder Western Conference Finals however not ruled out of the NBA finals.

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The Clippers are down a game against the Suns and one loss eliminates them from the Series.

Hence they need to win Game 6 to have a chance to play in NBA Finals.

So if the Clippers win Game 6 and reach NBA Finals then Leonard could return for the finals as his condition is progressing.

Kawhi Leonard’s injury

The Clippers already announced Leonard out of Wednesday’s Game 6. The Suns lead, 3-2 after the Clippers won Game 5 on Monday. If necessary, Game 7 will be Friday.

The Clippers star sustained an injury in the Western Conference Semifinals.

He last played on June 14 in Game 4 of the West semifinals against the Utah Jazz. Leonard sprained his knee in the fourth quarter of the game.

Subsequently, ruled out of the remainder of that series. Initially, the Clippers feared that he suffered a significant ACL injury.

Leonard has not played in the Western Conference finals but he came to support his teammates, watching the games in Staples Center, LA.

He is in rehab tending a sprained knee in Los Angeles and is not ruling out playing in the NBA Finals if the Clippers advances. 

The sources told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, ” representatives of Leonard will meet with L.A. to discuss next steps if the team moves past the Phoenix Suns.” 

 Kawhi Leonard improving, return plans pending
Kawhi Leonard improving, return plans pending (source:ocregister.com)

He is no doubt one of the best players in the NBA and the Clippers need him in the game healthy.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.9 three-pointers made, and 1.6 steals per game in 52 games of 72 games.

During those games, the Clippers often ruled him out to rest for the playoffs.

The strategy worked as he averaged 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game.

But injuries tend to happen in the game and he couldn’t avoid one in the Conference semifinals.

That cost him two games of the series and now the whole series against the Suns.

The Clippers are stepping up the game in Leonard’s absence.

Missing out on a key player in an important game is a big disadvantage.

However, the Clippers are holding on great to keep their hope alive for the NBA finals.

Despite missing their key player, the Clippers are holding on to the chance to play in the NBA finals.

They overcame a 2-0 game deficit against the Utah Jazz and entered the Conference Finals.

And again in the process of overcoming a 2-0 game deficit against the Suns.

All this possible because of other Clippers players stepping up to fill the hole left because of Leonard’s abscence.

And in his absence, one player that is playing exceptionally well for the Clippers is Paul George.

Paul George helped the Clippers cut the 3-1 series of the Suns to 3-2 in Game 5.

He scored game-high forty points in the game.

The Suns’ Coach Monty Williams wanted his team to remain on guard after Game 5

“We understood not only how good they were without Kawhi, but the coaching, the experience that they had that we didn’t have,” Williams said.

“Obviously when you lose a guy like Kawhi, it affects your team – I mean, we didn’t have Chris for a couple of games (due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols).”

“And when we played with the Lakers, he was playing with one arm, so we certainly understand what that’s like.”

“You always coach for the best team, you know what I’m saying? You prepare like they’re gonna come out and be the best team you’ve ever played against, no matter who’s on the floor.”

And other players that are stepping up include guards Reggie Jackson and Terance Mann.

Other players that the Clippers called are Nicolas Batum, Marcus Morris Sr., Luke Kennard, and Patrick Beverley.

The Clippers coach Ty Lue on other players stepping up in the game.

“We’ve had practice at it,” Lue said, “With PG and Kawhi being out, with Serge being out, Pat Beverley being out a lot this year.”

“I think our young guys really have had a chance to step up and play well in big games and big moments all season. ”

“Like, Luke Kennard, Terance Mann have been phenomenal all year. Reggie Jackson, just taking over that starting role with Pat being out. He’s been phenomenal.”

“Guys have stepped up. They have the experience. I think that’s the biggest thing, having the experience of being able to get consistent minutes throughout the regular season, and you just carry it over to the postseason.”

In addition, Lue said, “teams without their full arsenal tend to present wrinkles that wouldn’t otherwise arise if an opponent’s leading man was in the lineup.”

“I think at times you come into the series, into the games, thinking about trying to take away a team’s best player and how to defend them,” Lue said. “Then when he’s out, the other team kind of plays a different style of basketball. So you just really can’t key in on one or two guys.”

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