A right knee sprain will keep Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard from playing in the series-tilting Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinals set with the Utah Jazz, his team confirmed on Wednesday.
The Clippers announced no timetable for Leonard's return and are bracing for a significant injury:
News of Leonard's injury first emerged from ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne, who reported early Wednesday morning that the right knee could keep the All-NBA forward out for the rest of the series.
Leonard appeared to tweak his right knee on a collision in transition with Utah Jazz wing Joe Ingles at the 5:25 mark of the fourth quarter in Monday's Game 4. He limped on his right leg before missing a pair of free throws. Leonard remained in the game, only to sub out of the Clippers' 118-104 victory 50 seconds later.
When asked on the court by TNT's Rebecca Haarlow if he had any concerns about his right leg in his postgame interview, Leonard said, "Nah, I'll be good." Late the following day, Leonard began informing teammates that they should prepare to play without him in Game 5, according to Windhorst and Shelburne.
Only Serge Ibaka's back injury was listed on an injury report the Clippers filed to the NBA on Tuesday night.
Leonard missed all but nine games of the 2017-18 season with quadriceps tendinopathy in the same right knee, a chronic issue that damaged his relationship with the San Antonio Spurs. He has managed the injury ever since, missing 15 or more games in each of his last three seasons with the Clips and Toronto Raptors.
Leonard has been far and away the Clippers' most important player in the playoffs, which is not exactly revelatory news about a two-time Finals MVP. He registered 31 points (9-19 FG, 3-7 3P, 10-13 FT), seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block in the Game 4 victory, finishing +14 in his 34 minutes.
Leonard is averaging a 27-8-4 on 51/33/85 shooting splits for the series entering Game 5 in Utah at 10 p.m. ET on TNT. The Clippers' playoff hopes now rest on the shoulders of Paul George and his supporting cast.
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