This isn’t a surprise — the surprise will be if we see him again this postseason — but now it is official.
The Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard will sit out Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Suns, the team confirmed Saturday afternoon.
Leonard likely misses the first two games, didn’t even travel with his team to Phoenix, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports and TNT.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 19, 2021
Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals is Sunday, with Game 2 on Tuesday, and both of those games are in Phoenix. Then, the series shifts to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Thursday.
Leonard sprained his knee in Game 4 against the Jazz, sitting out the final 4:35 of that game plus the two following games (the Clippers closed out the series against the Jazz in six games anyway — with Leonard watching from a suite in the arena).
While the Clippers have only called it a knee sprain, and given no further details or a timeline for Leonard’s return, reports have said this is an ACL injury. It is not necessarily a full ALC tear, it could be partial (as Spencer Dinwiddie had this season) or even just a mild sprain, and it’s not yet known if surgery is needed. But even if it is “just” a sprain, it is of the ACL and the Clippers need to be cautious rather than send him out and potentially make the injury worse.
The Suns will be without Chris Paul for at least Game 1 as he remains in the league’s coronavirus health and safety protocols. There also is no timetable for his return.