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).

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  • Man Utd agree Casemiro deal in principle Man Utd agree Casemiro deal in principle

    Manchester United have agreed a deal in principle to sign midfielder Casemiro from Real Madrid for a fee in the region of £60million.

    The Brazil international is set to become the fourth arrival of this window after Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez.

    Casemiro, who had three years remaining on his contract with Madrid, brings plenty of quality and experience to Erik ten Hag's midfield after racking up over 300 appearances during nine trophy-filled years at Santiago Bernabeu.

    Indeed, the 30-year-old won five Champions Leagues with Los Blancos - scoring against Juventus in the 2017 final - as well as four LaLiga titles and three Club World Cups.

    Casemiro struggled to nail down a regular spot following his move to Madrid from Sao Paulo in 2013; spending the 2014-15 season on loan at Portuguese giants Porto.

    However, he did not look back after cementing his place in the starting line-up during the 2015-16 campaign, with no midfielder winning more tackles in LaLiga since then (415).

    The Brazilian has also completed 368 interceptions in the past seven seasons - with Dani Garcia (399) the sole midfielder to better that tally - while Dani Parejo (1,666) and Sergio Busquets (1,504) were the only players in his position to win possession on more occasions than him (1,462).

     

    Ten Hag has been keen to bolster his ranks in midfield ever since assuming the reins at Old Trafford, with Eriksen's arrival the first piece of that jigsaw.

    But by and large it has been a window of frustration for United, who have spent the majority of the past few months pursuing Barcelona star Frenkie de Jong only to hit several bumps in the road.

    A deal was reportedly agreed with Juventus for Adrien Rabiot only for that transfer to break down due to the player's excessive wage demands.

    That led United to Casemiro, with rumours over the move only surfacing on Thursday.

    But the transfer appeared all but done when Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti confirmed Casemiro had expressed a desire to complete a move away from the Spanish capital.

    "We've spoken this morning, he wants to try a new challenge, a new opportunity. I understand this, also the club does," Ancelotti said on Friday.

    "Because of what he has done in this club, his desire and due to everything he has done for this team, we need to be respectful of this.

    "There are negotiations between the clubs, he is still a Real Madrid player but it looks like he is now willing to depart. If he is departing we have a lot of resources to replace him.

    "I've always talked a lot with him in my second time at Real Madrid. I just listened to his desire, I think there's no turning back. This is what he wants."

  • BREAKING NEWS: Man Utd agree Casemiro deal in principle BREAKING NEWS: Man Utd agree Casemiro deal in principle

    Manchester United have agreed a deal in principle to sign midfielder Casemiro from Real Madrid for a fee in the region of £60million.

    The Brazil international is set to become the fourth arrival of this window after Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez.

    Casemiro, who had three years remaining on his contract with Madrid, brings plenty of quality and experience to Erik ten Hag's midfield after racking up over 300 appearances during nine trophy-filled years at Santiago Bernabeu.

    Indeed, the 30-year-old won five Champions Leagues with Los Blancos - scoring against Juventus in the 2017 final - as well as four LaLiga titles and three Club World Cups.

    Casemiro struggled to nail down a regular spot following his move to Madrid from Sao Paulo in 2013; spending the 2014-15 season on loan at Portuguese giants Porto.

    However, he did not look back after cementing his place in the starting line-up during the 2015-16 campaign, with no midfielder winning more tackles in LaLiga since then (415).

    The Brazilian has also completed 368 interceptions in the past seven seasons - with Dani Garcia (399) the sole midfielder to better that tally - while Dani Parejo (1,666) and Sergio Busquets (1,504) were the only players in his position to win possession on more occasions than him (1,462).

     

  • Casemiro signing will not resolve Man Utd's problems, warns Saha Casemiro signing will not resolve Man Utd's problems, warns Saha

    Casemiro's imminent arrival at Old Trafford will greatly enhance Manchester United's midfield options but will not resolve all of the club's problems.

    That is according to former United striker Louis Saha, who also told Stats Perform that Cristiano Ronaldo was wrong to ask for a move.

    Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti confirmed on Friday that Casemiro is set to leave the Santiago Bernabeu, with United reported to have agreed a £51million (€60m) fee.

    Casemiro, a five-time Champions League winner with Madrid, is one of a number of midfielders to have been linked with the Red Devils.

    Having appeared to have missed out on Frenkie de Jong and Adrien Rabiot, Casemiro's move to Old Trafford could be completed as early as this weekend.

    While the Brazil international will bring a number of qualities to United, Saha believes his former side's issues run far deeper than simply bringing in a new midfielder.

    United find themselves bottom of the Premier League for the first time since August 1992, which is the only previous occasion they lost their opening two games in the competition.

    "It's a massive signing," Saha said. "But it is not a midfielder, it is not a striker, it is not a defender, goalkeeper or other transfers that are going to solve United’s problems. 

    "So don't be stupid in thinking, 'Oh, okay, we signed the big player who won the Champions League a few times, all our problems will be solved'. 

    "He'll really help the strikers to feel more confident that they have a certain kind of base that helps a team that wants to win titles. But he won't solve every player’s problems."

    Casemiro is set to become United's fourth signing of the window following the arrivals of Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez.

    A number of first-team players have exited Old Trafford since the end of last season, meanwhile, with Paul Pogba the highest-profile departure to date.

    The future of Ronaldo remains in the balance ahead of the September 1 deadline, although a number of teams have opted out of making an approach for the forward.

    Ronaldo is reported to have asked for a transfer just a year after rejoining United, which Saha believes has left the Red Devils in a difficult situation.

    "I respect so much Cristiano and I think he's in this bracket as such a special player that I completely understand the way to manage this is not easy," he said.

    "Cristiano's a massive player and got 24 goals last year. That has a massive impact on the opposition because they fear him.

    "It's a difficult position. But on the same terms, we can recognise that he has put the club in a very difficult situation, because he hasn't maybe spoken out at the right moment.

    "I think the timing and the essence of this could have been kept a bit more private, until the deal is done or nearly done because of the respect that you have about the situation. 

    "The manager is trying to build a team, and you're saying you're unsettled and you want to leave. It's really hard. I don't think that he was right."

    Ronaldo scored 18 Premier League goals last season – only Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min (both 23) scored more – and netted a team-high 24 in all competitions.

    Bruno Fernandes was the only other United player to reach double figures, finding the back of the net 10 times.

    Saha, who won four trophies in five seasons with United, feels it is down to others to step up rather than Ronaldo if the five-time Ballon d'Or winner stays.

    "He got 24 goals last season and shut all the criticism in terms of his personal ability, and that was in a team not playing well," Saha said.

    "He is the only goalscorer who's got more than 10 goals, which is a joke. I mean, that's not normal. 

    "No other players could support when he wasn't scoring. We've seen bits from Bruno Fernandes, who is a bit of a shadow of the player he was before the arrival of Cristiano. 

    "The club and the other players haven't performed to facilitate a good rehabilitation for Cristiano Ronaldo's comeback."

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