Kawhi Leonard joins +20/-20 on/off club in Spurs’ loss to Warriors

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It’d be an oversimplification to say the Spurs lost Game 1 of the Western Conference finals yesterday because Kawhi Leonard got hurt.

But not much of one.

San Antonio outscored the Warriors by 21 with Leonard on the court and got outscored by 23 when he sat.

That puts Leonard in a rare class – helping his team outscore a playoff opponent by 20 with him on the court and still losing. There are just 11 such cases since 2001 (as far as Basketball-Reference records go back):

Player Date Score On Off
Kawhi Leonard 5/14/2017 GSW 113, SAS 111 +21 -23
Mike Muscala 4/16/2017 WAS 114, ATL 107 +20 -27
J.J. Barea 4/24/2015 HOU 130, DAL 128 +22 -24
Kendrick Perkins 5/11/2014 LAC 101, OKC 99 +21 -23
Mirza Teletovic 4/30/2014 TOR 115, BRK 113 +31 -33
Joe Johnson 4/30/2014 TOR 115, BRK 113 +22 -24
Brian Scalabrine 5/4/2009 ORL 95, BOS 90 +22 -27
Sam Cassell 6/15/2008 LAL 103, BOS 98 +23 -28
Brent Barry 5/27/2008 LAL 93, SAS 91 +24 -26
Carlos Delfino 4/22/2008 ORL 104, TOR 103 +23 -24
Todd MacCulloch 5/25/2002 BOS 94, NJN 90 +27 -31

This wasn’t a team getting blitzed in the few minutes its star sat, the Thunder/Russell Westbrook special. This wasn’t a reserve who just happened to be on the court during two big runs.

This was the plan coming to fruition then a total disruption of that plan.

The Spurs led by 23 when Leonard got hurt in the third quarter, and they surely would’ve ridden him much more if he remained healthy. He left with 26 points on 7-of-13 shooting, eight rebounds and three assists – one of the most productive playoff games ever in such limited minutes – and a major “what if?”