Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has been ruled out for Game 2 of the 2021 Western Conference finals against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night as he continues to deal with a sprained right knee.
Leonard, 29, has already missed the final two games of the Western Conference semifinal matchup against the Utah Jazz and the first game of the Suns series as well. The Clippers are 2-1 without him in those games, which includes a 120-114 loss to the Suns in Game 1 on Sunday.
He led the team in scoring (24.8 PPG) during the regular season, adding 6.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 51.2 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from three.
Paired with Paul George, he was expected to have the Clippers in the running for a title this season after 2019-20's disappointing exit in the Western Conference semifinals. So it was a pretty big surprise to see the Clippers close out the Jazz without him.
"This was the biggest game of our season," George told reporters after the Game 5 win. "Especially being down our best player. We knew coming into this, we had to play together. We had to step up."
"We've been playing men down all season," Reggie Jackson added. "We feel like it prepared us for this moment and we don't want our journey to end here. We want to give [Leonard] a chance to rest and figure out what's going on and hopefully he'll be back with us."
Winning a title without him, however, will prove a daunting task. Look for players like Terance Mann and Luke Kennard to take on a bigger role while Leonard is unavailable.