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Kawhi Leonard will be out for Game 5 and potentially the rest of the second round

This is a gut punch.

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2021 NBA Playoffs - Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

After appearing to figure out the Utah Jazz over the last two games in Staples Center, the Clippers were on a path to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. Instead, news dropped Wednesday morning that Kawhi Leonard will be out for Game 5 with a knee injury, and Leonard will potentially miss the rest of the second-round series.

Leonard was hurt at the end of Game 4 when he was fouled by Joe Ingles in semi-transition. He came off the floor shortly afterwards and sat for the final 4:35 of the contest.

Leonard told reporters postgame that he was good, and the Clippers did not list him on their injury report Tuesday, so the expectation was that he would be fine. However, Brian Windhorst of ESPN broke the news early Wednesday that Leonard was in fact not fine, and that “his status for rest of series is in doubt as well”. Per Windhorst, Leonard let his teammates know on Tuesday night that they would have to prepare to play without him.

There are some reports that the Clippers fear Leonard suffered an ACL injury in his right knee, but Ramona Shelburne of ESPN said that the Clippers can’t get a good enough image until the swelling subsides. The Clippers have listed his injury as a “right knee sprain” for the time being.

In 2017-18, Leonard missed most of the season with a right quad injury. He also had a sore right foot earlier this year.

Leonard will be the eighth All-Star to miss a playoff game this season (and that number could go up to nine, depending on what happens with Chris Paul in the health and safety protocols). It’s a devastating turn for the Clippers, and for the NBA as a whole, to be without one if its top-five players and a superstar who is appointment viewing every single night.

Best of luck to Kawhi for a full recovery.