The San Antonio Spurs are up against it. Down 2-0 in their Western Conference Finals series against the Golden State Warriors, the Spurs will be without MVP finalist Kawhi Leonard for a second consecutive game.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich made the announcement Saturday morning, mere hours before the team embarks on a do-or-die Game 3.
Pop on Kawhi: "I guess it's my decision. He's not thrilled that he's not playing, but he's not ready, so we're not going to play him."
— Melissa Rohlin (@melissarohlin) May 20, 2017
While Leonard doesn’t seem to be happy with the decision, teammate Danny Green fully understands why the Spurs are holding him out. He also had an interesting remark about what he thinks other teams would do in a similar situation.
Danny Green says other teams would have guys play w/ "broken bones, missing fingers," but #Spurs "care about guys' bodies and careers."
— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) May 20, 2017
That makes very little sense. After all, the Boston Celtics pulled Isaiah Thomas from Friday’s game with a hip injury. Meanwhile, Warriors center Zaza Pachulia is out for Game 3 with a heel injury.
Sure the Spurs are playing it cautious with Leonard. But this likely has more to do with Pop feeling that he can’t contribute at a high level. Ankles are somewhat of a necessity when it comes to actually playing basketball. If Leonard isn’t ready to play, he could have more of an adverse impact on the game. That’s likely the reasoning here.
San Antonio hosts Golden State in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals Saturday night. Should the team fall here, it will be in deep trouble. No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit to win a playoff series.