Leonard had a knee injury in Game 1 and returned to play in Game 2, but he sat out Games 3 and 4.
Due to a knee sprain, Kawhi Leonard will miss Game 5 of the Los Angeles Clippers’ first-round series against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday, according to the organization. After first sustaining the injury in Game 1, Leonard managed to play through it in Game 2, but he was unable to participate in the Clippers’ losses in Games 3 and 4.
Leonard is “extremely disappointed” that he won’t be able to play, Clippers president Lawrence Frank said to reporters prior to Game 3, but he would not elaborate on the seriousness of his injury.
Since Leonard never entered the locker room and played more than 80 minutes in total in Games 1 and 2, it is still unknown precisely when he injured his knee. Law, a Clippers beat writer
When I wrote the final part of this story @TheAthletic earlier this week, I noted this play in the second half of Game 1.
Not sure if this is the reason Kawhi Leonard is injured now, but this was a lot of tension on that right knee.https://t.co/eAZK65M2bT pic.twitter.com/und7a9mHmz
— Law Murray ❎️ (@LawMurrayTheNU) April 20, 2023
In order to heal his knee, Leonard missed the entire 2021–22 season. He load-managed it the entire time. The Clippers have said on the record that these absences are actually caused by legitimate injuries and not load management. The only time he played more than five straight games was when he played six straight games on either side of the All-Star break. He missed 20 of the Clippers’ first 27 games.
The strategy appeared to be succeeding perfectly. When Leonard did play during the regular season, he excelled, averaging 23.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.9 assists on splits of 51.2/41.6/87.1. The Clippers were able to seize home-court advantage in the first two games of this series thanks to Leonard, who contributed a total of 69 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists, and four steals while shooting 24-of-44 from the field.
Despite the fact that they both occurred in his right knee, Wojnarowski claims that the latest injury is unrelated to the torn ACL.
The Clippers were already missing Paul George going into this series since he injured his knee playing against the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 21. Despite being on the comeback road and having resumed on-court activities, Wojnarowski predicts he won’t play in the opening round.
The Suns, who are led by Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, are a formidable opponent for the Clippers without George, but after splitting in Phoenix, the Clippers had some hope. The Leonard news has now considerably depleted that. The Clippers have once again been dealt some major bad luck in the playoffs, but there is still a long way to go in the series.