Kawhi Leonard returns to Spurs lineup Friday vs. Trail Blazers

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A torn ligament in his hand has sidelined Kawhi Leonard for the past 15 games. In that time the Spurs went 7-8, with the 18th ranked defense in the NBA. What that has improved recently the Spurs offense continues to struggle, scoring at a pretty pedestrian rate.

San Antonio is better than any team in the league at having guys step up, fill a role and they keep on winning. But some guys bring things harder to replace, and Leonard’s athleticism and defense is that for the Spurs.

Which is why they are excited to have the reigning Finals MVP back on Friday night when the Spurs face the Trail Blazers.

The last game Leonard played was against Portland, where he scored 21 points and had nine rebounds. He averaged more than 15 points a game but more than that, was key to their defense on the perimeter and adding a jolt of athleticism to their offense.

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The Spurs are 24-16, which is only good enough for the seven seed in the West, and there are rumblings that they just do not look like the driven Spurs that won the title last season. Maybe not yet, but they have all the same players back. Write them off at your own risk, just know other teams around the league are not.