Kawhi Leonard Knee Injury Tanks Clippers Title Odds
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LA Clippers NBA futures betting markets crashed across top sportsbooks Wednesday following news that star forward Kawhi Leonard will be lost indefinitely this postseason because of a right knee injury.
Leonard hurt his knee as he planted his leg on the way to the basket in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal series against the Utah Jazz. Leonard has been dominant in the postseason, averaging 27.3 points and 7.5 rebounds against the Jazz. He and the Clippers received solid support in NBA betting markets to win the Western Conference, NBA Finals and, for Leonard, Finals MVP.
Leonard was +600 to win the Bill Russell Trophy as NBA Finals MVP before the Clippers-Jazz series began. He is now off the board.
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LA Clippers Chase First NBA Title, Finals Appearance
The loss of Leonard, who may have suffered an ACL injury, could be insurmountable for the Clippers. If so, it would cut short a season that held high hopes for Clippers fans and bettors alike. The Clippers were +500 to win their first NBA championship after they tied their best-of-seven game series 2-2 against the Utah Jazz on Monday. Paul George and Leonard each scored 31 points in the 118-104 Game 4 victory.
The Clippers franchise, which began as the Buffalo Braves in 1970, has been a league laughingstock for most of its 50-plus years. The Braves became the San Diego Clippers in 1978 before moving up I-5 to Los Angeles in 1984. The Braves/Clippers have never reached the NBA Finals, never mind won a title.
George helped push the Clippers throughout much of the month of April when Leonard missed nine games due to a sore right foot. But Leonard brings a veteran playoff presence unmatched on the Clippers roster. He was Finals MVP just two years ago while playing with the champion Toronto Raptors. He pulled off the same double-play with the Spurs in 2014.
It was that track record of postseason success that led the Clippers to build their team around Leonard, along with George, two years ago.
Paul In COVID Protocol But Suns Odds Stable
Suns guard Chris Paul, meanwhile, entered the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocol on Wednesday but could be able to play in time for the Western Conference finals.
Looking at the NBA playoff odds, Phoenix remains the best value play in the West, as they have been since the season began. Phoenix was once +1200 to win the Pacific Division before outlasting the Clippers and Lakers during the regular season. The Suns eliminated the Lakers in just five games in the first round before sweeping the Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals. Phoenix was an underdog before the start of each series.
Brooklyn is dealing with its own injury issues concerning Kyrie Irving and James Harden. Irving sprained his ankle in Game 4 against the Bucks and will not be playing in Game 6 Thursday in Milwaukee. Harden, who has been dealing with an injured hamstring, is expected to be in the lineup Thursday. The Nets will close out that series with a win.
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