Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul and Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard missed out on Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday, June 20.
Reports stated that Leonard had previously injured his right knee in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal series between the Clippers and the Utah Jazz, prompting coach Tyronn Lue to sit the player out indefinitely.
He notably missed the team’s crucial last two games against the Jazz last week.
As for Paul, he’s entered the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols for reasons unknown. It’s also unsure when he’ll be able to return to the court.
Isolations can be shorter for vaccinated persons, depending on the medical circumstance.
The absence of the league’s two stars left both teams without key players for the first game of the Western Conference Finals.
The news, however, didn’t seem to shake Devin Booker, who scored his first career triple double for the Phoenix Suns with 40 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists. With Booker’s help, the Suns beat the Clippers 120-114, securing them a 1-0 lead in the series.
Fellow teammate Jae Crowder said this of Booker’s phenomenal performance: “I expect it. I know the type of player he is.”
On the Clippers side, Paul George took the lead with 34 points, five assists, and four rebounds.
Both teams have yet to win a championship. The Suns’ last appearance in the NBA Finals was in 1993, against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. They lost 4-2 in Game 6.
For the Clippers, it is their first conference finals in franchise history. If all goes well, they’ll be able to advance on to fight for their first NBA title.
Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals is set for Wednesday morning at 9:00AM PHT. It will take place in Phoenix once again.