NBA

NBA playoffs 2021: Kawhi Leonard to miss sixth straight game as Clippers look to level series

By Sports Desk June 25, 2021

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard will miss his sixth consecutive game after being ruled out of Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.

Leonard has endured an injury-hit NBA playoff campaign, having not played since suffering a sprained right knee in Game 4 of the Conference semi-finals against the Utah Jazz.

The Clippers will again be without Leonard when they host the second-seeded Phoenix Suns on Saturday, looking to level the matchup at 2-2.

In this season's playoffs, two-time NBA champion Leonard has been averaging 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists for the fourth-seeded Clippers.

The Clippers trail the Suns 2-1 in the series following Thursday's 106-92 win at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Paul George led the way with 27 points and 15 rebounds as the Clippers celebrated their first ever victory in the Western Conference Finals.

Entering the contest following back-to-back games on the road, George had scored at least 20 points in all 15 games this postseason.

The latest performance saw George eclipse LeBron James' run of 15 consecutive games (in 2016) with 20-plus points in the playoffs – Kevin Durant is the only other active player to achieve the feat in the postseason (20 straight in 2012 and 21 in a row in 2018).

Related items

  • Galtier 'not surprised' by Fournier's comments Galtier 'not surprised' by Fournier's comments

    Paris Saint-Germain head coach Christophe Galtier is "not surprised" by some strong comments made by former colleague Julien Fournier regarding their time together at Nice.

    Galtier joined Nice ahead of the 2021-22 campaign after winning the Ligue 1 title with Lille, but he stayed at the Allianz Riviera for just one year before making the move to PSG.

    Speaking on RMC show 'After Foot' on Wednesday, ex-Nice director of football Fournier suggested Galtier's exit came down to more than just football reasons.

    "It's common knowledge that the relationship I had with Christophe was quite chaotic from the start of the season," said Fournier, who himself left for Parma in July 

    "Quite honestly, if I explain the real reasons we argued, Christophe would no longer be allowed in a locker room, neither in France nor in Europe.

    "But it was not about football matters. These are much more serious things from my point of view. It was indirectly linked to football. These are things that affect me deeply. 

    "We finished the season and we, him and I, were as professional as possible to limit the negative impact that it could have had on the team. Then there was the separation."

    Galtier was asked about those remarks at a pre-match press conference on Thursday ahead of his first meeting with Nice since joining PSG.

    "He is pretentious," Galtier told reporters. "I am not surprised at the way he expressed himself. I don't want to get tired of debating on everything that was said.

    "If we do that, the way it works means we create one debate after another. I'm not surprised about what I heard knowing the character. That's all I've got to say."

    Galtier won 23 of his 43 matches in charge of Nice last season and guided the club to a fifth-place finish in Ligue 1.

    He departed with the best points-per-game record of any coach in Nice's Ligue 1 history, with his return of 1.76 marginally better than current incumbent Lucien Favre's 1.67.

    Galtier's Nice went unbeaten against PSG last season and were the only side to keep clean sheets in both matches against the Parisians.

    However, PSG welcome the Eagles to Parc des Princes on Saturday having won seven of their opening eight matches, scoring 26 goals and conceding only four in the process.

    Asked if his side are prepared for the challenge on the back of a two-week international break, Galtier said: "We have to get back to normal as quickly as possible.

    "We've worked for the past 10 days with five players. This is the first game in a long series. There are 13 games to go before the World Cup and we are preparing carefully."

  • Heskey backs under-fire England boss Southgate ahead of World Cup Heskey backs under-fire England boss Southgate ahead of World Cup

    Emile Heskey believes Gareth Southgate should be given the chance to turn England's fortunes around after relegation from League A in the Nations League.

    The Three Lions' manager has come in for criticism after his team finished bottom of Group 3, failing to win any of their six outings against Italy, Hungary and Germany (D3 L3).

    With the World Cup in Qatar kicking off in less than two months, the pressure is on Southgate to deliver, though he did guide England to the semi-finals in Russia in 2018 before reaching the final of the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament last year.

    Heskey – who made 62 appearances for England – thinks Southgate and his players can turn it around and can take positives from their 3-3 draw with Germany at Wembley on Monday.

    Speaking to Stats Perform, the former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker said: "I think the draw against Germany did redeem [England] in some cases.

    "I thought the fight they showed was fantastic to get it back to 3-2 because they could easily have given up at 2-0 [down]. But they fought back to make it 3-2 and then 3-3, obviously.

    "Football has always fascinated me [because] we put no pressure on them, and [then] they get to a semi-final and a final, then we suddenly heap a load of pressure on them and you can see what's happening."

    Prior to the six-goal thriller with Germany, England had failed to score with any of their previous 62 non-penalty shots, a run of seven hours and 30 minutes without a non-penalty goal.

    Southgate's men are also winless in their last six games in all competitions, their longest run since April to June 1993 (also six). It is their longest ever winless run going into a major tournament.

    "When you're not doing well, they're going to justify criticism, and you've got to accept that criticism. It's how you bounce back from that," Heskey added.

    "None of these have turned into bad players overnight, and the manager isn't a bad manager overnight. I think you've got to give him the opportunity to turn it around and turn the fortune of the players around as well."

    One of the concerns widely discussed has been whether Southgate knows his best team before they take on Iran, the United States and Wales in Group B at the World Cup, but Heskey pointed out selection headaches mean the manager has a number of credible options available to him.

    "You could put it either way," he said. "It could be alarming, or it could be a good thing that we don't know the best 11 because players are coming in.

    "You've even got Ivan Toney coming into the [last] squad... [Mason] Mount's played a lot of games and then come back in and scored.

    "So it's always good to keep the manager on his toes. But you really should know who your starting 11 is coming up to a major tournament."

  • Conte rubbishes 'disrespectful' Juventus links ahead of North London Derby Conte rubbishes 'disrespectful' Juventus links ahead of North London Derby

    Antonio Conte described reports linking him with a return to Juventus as "disrespectful" ahead of Tottenham's North London Derby clash with Arsenal.

    Spurs are unbeaten in their seven Premier League games this season and trail the Gunners by just one point ahead of Saturday's trip to the Emirates Stadium. 

    Should Tottenham avoid defeat at the home of their local rivals, it will be just the second time they have gone unbeaten through their first eight games of a Premier League season, having previously done so in 2016-17.

    Conte's work with Tottenham has seen him linked with a return to Juventus, who he led to three consecutive Serie A titles between 2011-12 and 2013-14.

    Bianconeri boss Massimiliano Allegri is under pressure after they recorded just two wins in their opening seven Serie A matches this season, but Conte has rubbished speculation he would be tempted by a return to Turin. 

    "This is incredible. In this period I think this is disrespectful for the coach that works in Juventus and for me working in Tottenham," Conte said on Thursday.

    "We have just started the season. Many times I have spoken about this topic and I've always said I'm happy and enjoying my time with Tottenham. 

    "We have the whole season to find the best solution for the club and for me, and for sure I'm enjoying my time at Tottenham. I have a great relationship with the owner [Daniel Levy] and [sporting director Fabio] Paratici. 

    "I don't see any problems at the moment in the future. We both signed the contract. I don't want to listen to someone speaking about this."

    Tottenham overcame Arsenal in a tense battle for Champions League qualification last season, going on to claim fourth place after beating the Gunners 3-0 in May.

    Conte, however, believes Mikel Arteta's side have improved since then, adding: "For sure Arsenal had a fantastic start, they lost only one game against [Manchester] United. They are showing to be a really good team.

    "In the summer they made good signings and improved the team that, don't forget, before the last three games of last season, were four points up on us. 

    "We are talking about a really good team that, last season, we did a really good job to overcome in the last three games.

    "At the same time, I know the quality of this team, that they are working with Arteta for many years. For me, he's a really good coach. He can have in front of him a great career."

    Both Hugo Lloris and Dejan Kulusevski are reportedly doubtful for the trip to Arsenal with minor injuries, and Conte believes the punishing nature of the schedule between now and the World Cup will reveal which sides are genuine title contenders. 

    "I have seen that many clubs are having big problems with players that played these two games [in the international break], and for sure Tottenham is one of these clubs," he added.

    "You have to understand this was the last game [for the players] to show they deserve to play the World Cup, also for the coaches it was the last period to call the players.

    "For sure, to play so many games before the international break, and then again now to play 13 games in 43 days, it's crazy, it's crazy. 

    "For sure, we have to face it with injuries. In this period, you understand which are the really competitive squads. 

    "This is the moment in which you understand who are the title contenders and the teams that are competitive for Champions League."

    Saturday's match will be the first North London Derby since December 2007 to begin with one of the sides sitting top of the Premier League. 

    Should Spurs win, it would be the first time in top-flight history that either of the teams has beaten the other to replace them at the top of the table.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.