Kawhi Leonard evidently feels better than he did three days ago. Even though the San Antonio Spurs are understandably playing this close to the vest going into Game 3, they’ve elevated Leonard from doubtful to questionable in advance of what is almost certainly a must-win occasion on Saturday night.
Just more than 30 hours remain until the Spurs take the court against the Golden State Warriors, doing so at home for the first time in these Western Conference Finals. But more important than the series’ relocation is the status of the underdog’s MVP candidate.
Leonard left Game 1 with the Spurs up big and did not play in Game 2 — a 136-100 Warriors rout. The Warriors could be down Andre Iguodala and Zaza Pachulia in Game 3, although odds may be slightly against after both went through light practices on Thursday, but that pales in comparison to how Leonard’s ankle injury has affected the Spurs.
The 25-year-old Leonard said he was indeed feeling “better” today but still categorized himself as day-to-day. San Antonio needs to win Game 3 or face the prospect of being swept in a playoff series for the first time since the Suns did so in the 2009-10 Western semifinals. During the Gregg Popovich era, San Antonio has only been swept twice. No NBA team has climbed back from a 3-0 hole.
Golden State is 10-0 in these playoffs, and an incredible line of demarcation emerged in this series once Pachulia completed his controversial closeout on Leonard during the third quarter of Game 1. The Spurs did eliminate the Rockets without him in Game 6, but they are playing against a different caliber of team now.
Leonard averaged a career-high 25.5 points per game this season; no other Spur averaged 18 points per night.