The Los Angeles Clippers have hit a rough patch in their NBA playoff series against the Phoenix Suns after a new injury to their star player, Kawhi Leonard. Leonard had been ruled out of Game 3 due to a sprained right knee, which he had initially aggravated during Game 1, but played through in their Game 2 loss. While Leonard’s current injury is unrelated to the torn right ACL that kept him out of the last season, it puts the Clippers at a disadvantage in the first-round series, especially with Paul George also sidelined due to a sprained right knee.
Despite Leonard’s exceptional performances in the first two games, averaging 34.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 2.0 steals while shooting 54.5% from the field, his injury has affected the team’s morale. Clippers head coach Ty Lue expressed his disappointment, saying that it was particularly difficult for Leonard, who has been working hard to recover from his ACL injury.
The team has adopted a day-by-day approach to monitor Leonard’s condition, but his absence adds to the team’s woes. The Clippers faced a tough challenge in Game 3, with Devin Booker scoring 45 points and Kevin Durant adding 28 points, six rebounds, and five assists. While Norman Powell attempted to keep up with Booker’s scoring, Russell Westbrook took the blame for his turnovers. The Clippers struggled as the Suns had 46 free throws compared to their 25 attempts.
The Clippers are now in a challenging situation, and Lue defended the team’s decision to carefully manage Leonard’s minutes and workload throughout the season, stating that they were preparing for situations like this. Westbrook expressed sympathy for Leonard and the situation he finds himself in, but he believes that the team must rally together to find ways to win the series, especially since it’s a first-to-four situation.
This latest injury is a major setback for the Clippers, who have been struggling with injuries throughout the season. The team surprised some NBA observers by winning Game 1 against the Suns, thanks in part to Leonard’s outstanding performance, where he posted 38 points and impacted the game on both sides of the ball. However, it will be challenging for the Clippers to win the series without their top two players, and the likelihood of them upsetting the Suns has taken a major hit.
Leonard’s contract has been frustrating for the Clippers, with the star player’s injury woes taking a toll on the team’s chances of success. It remains to be seen whether Leonard will return to the court at all this season, and his absence will undoubtedly impact the team’s performance. As the Clippers prepare for Game 4, they face a daunting task of turning their fortunes around and advancing to the next round of the NBA playoffs.