It’s this simple: Without Kawhi Leonard the Spurs have no chance to beat the Warriors. San Antonio was outscored 58-33 after he left the game when he re-sprained his ankle.
“We need Kawhi to create, to score,” Manu Ginobili said after the game. “He means a lot to this team. We were doing really well when he went down. The Warriors were starting to pick up, to feel good about themselves, to increase the pressure on everybody else, and that’s when we struggled because we couldn’t have the guy who runs those plays and gets them off their pressure.
“We struggled a lot without him, and it’s a tough break… we couldn’t react to his absence.”
They may need to react for at least another game. The Spurs said nothing officially after the game about Leonard, but it’s hard to imagine him playing in Game 2 on Tuesday based on the postgame reports.
Leonard is expected to have an MRI Monday.
If Leonard sits Game 2 on Tuesday, he could rest his ankle and get treatment for six days before Game 3 on Saturday in San Antonio.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich admitted his team got a little rattled with Leonard not there to settle them down. As an example, LaMarcus Aldridge had a hot start but was 3-of-11 with five turnovers after Leonard left the game.
“(The Warriors) defense picked up, we got a little bit in mud, couldn’t get anybody to score, and they’re fairly talented. It showed,” Popovich said.
“He’s obviously a huge presence for them,” Stephen Curry said after the game. “But their system is the same so you just try to stay within yourselves, move the ball, move bodies, attack the paint, drive and kick, and do what we do to get everybody involved.”
The Warriors had their own injury to deal with, and while not as significant it was more of a mystery.
After playing just 10 minutes in the first half, Andre Iguodala did not play at all in the second half due to what the team called “left knee soreness.”
“He just looked a little hobbled out there,” Warriors coach Mike Brown said. “I haven’t gotten any kind of diagnosis from our staff or anything like that. So in the second half, because he looked a little hobbled to me in the first half, I just went another direction.”
Iguodala is expected to have an MRI Monday as well.
It didn’t hurt the Warriors in Game 1, but no Iguodala means a lot more Matt Barnes, which is a step down the ladder.
It is not known yet how serious things are for Iguodala and if he can play in Game 2. He was on the bench and calling out instructions at the end of Game 1.