Kawhi Leonard is out indefinitely with a torn ligament in his right hand, but he described the injury as “not as bad as it sounds” and added, “I should be back soon.”
His coach isn’t so sure.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
“I don’t think that’s accurate,” Popovich said of the reigning NBA Finals MVP. “He got another injection yesterday. One of the doctors said he’s been doing hands for 40 years and it’s the first time he’s ever seen this injury. It’s a little bit unique.”
“I don’t know about Kawhi,” Popovich said. “That one’s very problematic.”
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Leonard has missed four of the Spurs’ last six games, and they’ve gone just 2-4 without him in that span. They beat the Knicks and Clippers and lost to the Lakers, Grizzlies, Trail Blazers and Mavericks.
San Antonio should have beaten the Lakers, with or without Leonard. But the rest of that schedule is tough, which is not an aberration. The Western Conference is loaded.
At 18-11, the Spurs are seventh in the conference. That puts them above the Pelicans/Suns/Thunder (/Kings/Nuggets) fray competing for eighth, but it would still mean beginning the playoffs on the road.
A third straight trip to the Finals won’t be easy regardless, but the longer Leonard is out, the more difficult that road becomes.