Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard to miss Game 3 as playoff series moves to LA
LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Clippers will be without Kawhi Leonard for Game 3 of the first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns, which is certainly troubling news for Clipper Nation. They are now without two All-Stars as Paul George remains out with a knee injury with no timetable for his return.
Team officials announced Thursday afternoon Leonard would miss the game due to a right knee sprain. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Leonard aggravated his knee in the series opener and played through it in Game 2. The latest injury apparently isn't related to the ACL injury that kept him sidelined for the entire 2021-22 NBA season.
It's unknown when he'll return and is considered day-to-day.
It seemed as though "Playoff Kawhi" was fully activated after outstanding 38 and 31-point performances and staying in for the majority of both games.
Clippers head coach Ty Lue said in a post-game press conference Tuesday the team remains confident despite the loss in the desert when the Suns evened the series.
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With the series shifting to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4, Leonard said Tuesday night it was important to protect home court.
While George and Leonard are out, the Clippers still have a healthy Russell Westbrook and an impressive and versatile bench, which includes Terance Mann and Norman Powell. This is a team that's scrappy and able to persevere, and in the "213 Era" (representing Leonard and George's jersey numbers that coincide with an LA area code), they've been in this position many times before.
Leonard's absence is significant, and the Clippers will need to find ways to fill his void on both ends of the floor. With lethal shooters Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and Devin Booker starting to gel, this will be quite the challenge for Los Angeles to overcome.
Perhaps the bigger question is: how effective is load management? The Clippers are often criticized as the league's worst offenders and with two superstars out, this could become a bigger storyline to watch for.
Tip-off for Game 3 is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. PT at the Crypto.com Arena in downtown Los Angeles.