The Clippers Curse just reared its ugly head. Kawhi Leonard from the Los Angeles Clippers has a knee injury and will miss Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City. The series is deadlocked at 2-2 after the Clippers rallied back from an 0-2 deficit with back-to-back wins in LA.
The Clippers indicated that there is “no timetable” for Kawhi’s return.
The betting markets spiked when the story broke about Kawhi’s injury; the Utah Jazz opened as -3 favorites heading into Game 5, but the line moved to -7 if they must play without Kawhi.
The Jazz are now -286 odds to win the series, according to an update by DraftKings. The Clippers were +106 odds to win the series as of yesterday, but the odds moved to +230 in this morning’s update. In addition, the Clippers saw their NBA championship odds drop to +1000.
Wait, Kawhi has a knee injury?
You might’ve missed it, but Kawhi suffered a knee injury with four minutes remaining in Game 4. When beat reporters asked him about it after the game, Kawhi shrugged off the injury.
“I’m good,” Kawhi said in his laid-back SoCal tone.
While Paul George has had his ups and downs in the postseason, Kawhi has been ultra steady and reliable, averaging 27.3 ppg against the Jazz this series. He averaged 32.5 ppg in both victories, and scored 34 points and hauled down 12 rebounds in a 26-point blowout in Game 3. He added 31 points in Game 4’s 14-point win.
The Clippers didn’t mention the knee problem on Tuesday’s injury report. Apparently, Kawhi will undergo an MRI and examination on Wednesday morning to determine the severity of the injury. He’s definitely out for Game 5, but will he miss the rest of this series and the remainder of the postseason entirely?
Prior to Kawhi’s knee injury, the Clippers avoided the epidemic of injuries to star players in the 2021 playoffs.
The short-handed Jazz played this entire series against the Clippers without starting point guard Mike Conley. He’s listed as questionable for Game 5 with a hamstring injury. Conley last played in the close-out game of the opening round against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Donovan “Spida” Mitchell, the Jazz’s leading scorer who’s averaging 37.3 ppg this series, suffered a sprained ankle in Game 3. Mitchell played through the injury in Game 4 and notched 37 points in the loss. He’s expected to suit up for Game 5, but Conley’s status will be a game-time decision by head coach Quin Snyder.
With Kawhi expected to miss Game 5, it makes sense if the Jazz keep Conley out to give him additional time to heal.
Slew of Injuries in the NBA Playoffs
Did the quick turnaround in between seasons cost the NBA some of its premier stars in the postseason?
In the opening round, the LA Lakers lost Anthony Davis to a groin injury and the defending champions subsequently were knocked out by the Phoenix Suns. The Jazz’s starting backcourt is all messed up between Conley’s hamstring and Mitchell’s sprained ankle, while the Phoenix Suns recently learned that Chris Paul is out indefinitely due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
The top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers from the Eastern Conference received bad news when Joel Embiid tore his meniscus in the opening-round series against the Washington Wizards. Embiid decided to play through the injury, but he’s obviously in severe pain. The 76ers also lost another started when Danny Green went down with a calf injury.
The Brooklyn Nets lost two-thirds of their Big 3 in the second round. James Harden tweaked his hamstring in the first 43 seconds of Game 1 against the Milwaukee Bucks. Harden returned for Game 5, but he was rushed back into the lineup because Kyrie Irving sat out after he suffered a severely sprained ankle in Game 4.
The Bucks are also playing without their starting shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo, who suffered torn ligaments in his ankle during their first-round matchup against the Miami Heat. Now, you can add Kawhi to the growing list of NBA All-Stars who are sidelined with an injury.
Check out more of OG’s coverage of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.