SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Injuries continue to ravage the NBA playoffs, as L.A. Clippers All-Star Kawhi Leonard is out for Game 5 against the Jazz with a knee injury, and he could miss the rest of the series.
Leonard injured his knee late in the Clippers’ 118-104 Game 4 victory over the Jazz, which evened the series a two games a piece.
Asked about the injury after the game, Leonard said, “I’m good. Next question.”
Some reports say Leonard may have suffered an ACL injury.
Jazz All-Star point guard Mike Conley has also been ruled out for Game 5 with a hamstring strain. Conley has missed the first four games of the series, and hasn’t played since June 2nd.
Conley has been ruled questionable before every game in the Western Conference semifinals, but has been ruled out on game day.
“It’s very, very frustrating,” he said. :”I’ve worked so hard on my body to avoid this happening. Basically, hamstrings or anything muscular, they’re weird. You honestly have to wake up in the morning and hope it’s at a reasonable level to play. I’m not gonna be 100% when I come back.”
Conley said he was hoping to play in Game 3, but suffered a “small setback” the morning of Game 2. He also said returning for this series is not “out of play.”
“Time is the best thing for it, but we don’t have that,” Conley said. “We’re expediting it as much as possible.”
Joe Ingles has replaced Conley in the starting lineup in each of the first four games against the Clippers and is averaging 16.3 points and 4.0 assists in the series.
Leonard injured his knee during the Clippers’ Game 4 victory, landing awkwardly after a drive, but not before laying down 31 points against the Jazz.
Leonard, a 2-time NBA Finals MVP, has been the Clippers’ best player in the postseason, averaging 27.3 points and 7.5 rebounds in the four games against the Jazz.
Leonard missed 20 games in the regular season because of rest or various injuries, and the the Clippers went 11-9.
“You feel for anybody that has an injury, especially this late in the season,” Conley said about Leonard. “Obviously it will affect our games. We know the kind of talent Kawhi is and what he brings to this series. We can’t look at this as a reason to lower our level at all. That team is as deep of a team as you’ll go against. There’s a reason why they built that team that way, and they still have stars that can carry them to wins.”
Game 5 – a critical game with the Jazz and clippers tied at two a piece – is at Vivint Arena.
If the Jazz win the series, they will face the Phoenix Suns, who may be without star point guard Chris Paul. ESPN is reporting Paul has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and is out indefinitely.