The NBA playoffs have turned into a true war of attrition. The Los Angeles Clippers, one of the few teams that was near full health, may be without Kawhi Leonard for tonight's Game 5 against the Utah Jazz.
Late in Game 4 on Monday night, Leonard landed awkwardly on a drive to the hoop. He tried to stay in, but eventually left the game, though it was already pretty well in hand.
Now, it looks like the knee injury is going to linger into tonight's pivotal Game 5. The Clippers and Jazz are tied at two games a piece. Utah will be a huge favorite to take control of the series with Leonard out, after the Clippers won two straight games to even things up.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst says that he is expected to miss Game 5, and that the rest of the series "is in doubt." He also "told teammates last night to prepare for him to be out," per Windhorst.
Kawhi Leonard had been pretty unstoppable in the two wins against the Jazz, scoring a total of 65 points in those games. With him out, the onus will fall on his superstar teammate Paul George, a talented wing in his own right, but one with a history of falling short in the postseason.
The Jazz, meanwhile, have Donovan Mitchell, who has played like one of the best players in the NBA in the playoffs, and a defensive stalwart in Rudy Gobert.
Leonard is far from the only NBA star out as we near the finals. Just this morning, we found out that one of his potential Western Conference Finals foes Chris Paul is entering COVID-19 protocols. The Suns swept the Denver Nuggets in the conference semifinal round.
Out East, the Brooklyn Nets are without Kyrie Irving. James Harden returned from his hamstring injury last night, but was a shell of his normal, MVP-level self, scoring just five points on 1-of-10 shooting.