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Suns could face injured Clippers or hobbled Jazz in WCF

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns is congratulated by Deandre Ayton #22 after a basket in Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Regardless of who the Phoenix Suns face in the Western Conference Finals, they’ll probably play a team that’s not at full strength.

Currently, the Suns are awaiting the winner of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz.

But since Los Angeles and Utah have the injury bug, Phoenix might have the upper hand for the length of the series even as point guard Chris Paul’s status is up in the air as he remains in NBA health and safety protocols.

Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard injured his right knee in the fourth quarter of Game 4 against the Jazz. While driving to the basket, Leonard landed awkwardly with his right foot, causing him to miss Game 5 as the team awaits for swelling to go down in order to diagnose his exact injury.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Wednesday that the Clippers fear Leonard may have injured his ACL.

“We just know we are being optimistic, trying to wait for everything to clear up, get the testing back in the next 48 hours or so and then go from there,” Clippers head coach Ty Lue said in his pregame media availability on Wednesday.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP missed Game 5, but the Clippers were able to squeak out a 119-111 win.

Part of the reason why they were able to win on the road is because Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell battled an ankle injury he re-aggravated in Game 3.

Mitchell re-injured his ankle after attempting a layup in the fourth quarter. He sat out for the remainder of that game.

The 24 year-old appeared to be bothered by it in Game 5 as he finished with a series-low 21 points on 6-of-19 shooting.

“It (expletive) sucks,” Mitchell said on being hobbled by the ankle injury.

“It’s tough when you’re trying different things that you normally do, and you see spots you can get to but you can’t.”

Of course, the Suns could be at less than 100% in the Western Conference Finals.

Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro reported on Wednesday that Paul tested positive for COVID-19 but is vaccinated.

For the time being, Paul is out indefinitely, and his status for the Western Conference Finals is unknown. Phoenix will give an update on his status on Saturday.

If the Clippers-Jazz series ends in six games, the Suns would play on Sunday. But if the series goes to seven games, Phoenix would play on Tuesday.

The Suns are hoping for the latter as they wait for their star point guard to return.

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