The Los Angeles Clippers clearly missed star forward Kawhi Leonard on Thursday night, dropping Game 3 of their series against the Phoenix Suns to go down 2-1 in the series. Unfortunately, the organization received even more bad news regarding Leonard on Friday night.
Leonard is dealing with a right knee sprain that was aggravated in Game 1 of the series. It appears to be an injury that isn’t going away anytime soon, which led to a horrible update on his availability for Game 4.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Leonard has been ruled out for Game 4 on Saturday.
Clippers list Kawhi Leonard (knee) as out for Game 4 vs. Suns.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 22, 2023
Many around the NBA world took notice of this and do not like their chances in Game 4 or the rest of this playoff series against Phoenix.
Everyone finding out Kawhi Leonard isn’t playing tomorrow pic.twitter.com/dl3LwonQgz
— DraftKings (@DraftKings) April 22, 2023
— V̷a̷t̷o̷r̷ (@Vator_H_Town) April 22, 2023
It took Kawhi Leonard and Paul George being out and a carry job from the refs for the Suns to beat the Clippers by a couple possessions.
— Joey Linn (@joeylinn_) April 21, 2023
Kawhi, Giannis, and now Embiid have all missed playoff games due to injury….and it's only the 1st round. The team that wins this year, will be the healthiest, not necessarily the best. A true war of attrition. P.S. I thought load mangement was intended to negate this
— Terry Gomez (@TerryGomezLV) April 22, 2023
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith offered a particularly brutal analysis of Kawhi Leonard following the news, saying that he believes Leonard “should retire” at the end of this season.
“In the case of Kawhi Leonard, I stand alone probably on this but I don’t care,” said Stephen A. Smith. “I think the man should retire. I’m sick of these injuries to Kawhi. I’m not questioning the legitimacy of them in any way, but my god.”
Regardless, the Clippers will need star point guard Russell Westbrook to step up once again in Leonard’s absence. The former MVP winner put up 30 points along with 12 assists and eight rebounds in Leonard’s absence in Game 3.
Both Leonard and George have struggled mightily to stay on the floor when it matters for the Clippers. The two have been teammates for the past four years in Los Angeles, but there have been multiple postseasons where one or both of them have been unavailable due to injuries.