The LA Clippers broke a 50-year drought last postseason when they advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. While the WCF appearance was historic, it was not what the team had hoped for. Since acquiring both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in 2019, the team's sights have been set no lower than the NBA Finals. According to one ESPN analyst, that is where they were headed had Kawhi Leonard not torn his ACL.
On a recent segment of ESPN's The Jump, analyst Kendrick Perkins said the Clippers would have made the Finals had Kawhi not gotten hurt. Behind the heroics of Paul George, the Clippers were able to beat the Utah Jazz twice without Kawhi and advance to the WCF; however, they did not have enough fire power to overcome to Phoenix Suns.
Had Kawhi been healthy, Kendrick Perkins believes they would have beaten Phoenix and advanced to the Finals. Marcus Morris recently told the media that he believes his health kept them from advancing to the Finals, despite the fact that he was not forced to miss any games.
The Clippers were obviously without Kawhi Leonard for the entirety of the Western Conference Finals, but they were also without both of their centers. Serge Ibaka had been out for weeks at that point, and Ivica Zubac suffered an injury in Game 4 that kept him out the remainder of the series.
Perhaps even just the addition of Zubac back in to the Clippers lineup could have made a difference, because in the 125 minutes he played in the Western Conference Finals, the Clippers outscored Phoenix by 25 points. Combining the absences of Kawhi, Zubac, and Ibaka, certainly creates some skepticism that Phoenix was indeed the better team.
While nobody can truly know what would have happened if both teams were at full strength, there is certainly some validity to Perkins' claim that the Clippers would have handled Phoenix had Kawhi been available.