Tuesday, 24 April, 2018

Kawhi Leonard: Officially ruled out for Game 1

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Kristopher Love | 15 April, 2018, 06:32

Defending champion Golden State opened the National Basketball Association playoffs by routing San Antonio 113-92, the Warriors serving notice Saturday they will not be easily dethroned despite Stephen Curry's knee injury.

With the scores being locked on numerous occasions during the game, the contest was destined to go either way and with the game being tied at 71-71 yet again with less than a minute to play, Warriors broke the deadlock through Headley and played a good defensive game to ensure they captured the six-point contest. But hey, it worked. The first game of the playoffs will be between the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors.

Golden State dominated San Antonio in all phases of the game, outrebounding the Silver and Black 51-30 and stifling them with tenacious defense. The Golden State Warriors locked up the paint, made the Spurs take nothing but outside shots and it was a plan that led to a blowout.

A week before, the Warriors were beaten by the Indiana Pacers, 126-106, making their coach Steve Kerr mad as he blasted his team for a "pathetic" effort, saying that they did not care. He did an incredible job defending LaMarcus Aldridge in the first half, eventually finishing with 15 points, four rebounds, one steal and two blocks. Because that's what needs to happen for San Antonio. "Overreacting to a lot of things because we are so excited that we're in the playoffs and playing, obviously, the best team in the world".

But they lost all four regular season games to the Rockets and could well get swept in this series too as they try to keep James Harden and Chris Paul in check. On the other side, the Warriors can get past a handful of teams without a couple of their stars. Some players attributed the poor finish to the Warriors' having nothing to play for in the final weeks because they had the No. 2 seed locked up. "And I'm well aware of what a long, hard season it's been", Kerr said.

Warriors: The Warriors had 32 assists on 44 field goals, 23 of those assists on 33 made baskets through the third.

From the opening tip, Golden State was executing smart plays. The Spurs with Kawhi and the Warriors without Curry would tip the scales in this series toward being somewhat level, or at least invite some suspense. The Golden State Warriors are allowing 40.9 percent shooting from deep and are grabbing 51 rebounds per game.

Even without Curry, there are still three All-Stars on the Warriors roster and it's not like the Spurs will be at full strength either as Kawhi Leonard is expected to miss possibly the entire series.

"We were not as ready to face a team like them", said Ginobili.

Kerr's son, Nick, is on the Spurs staff and the team jokingly voted him out of the film room Friday for fear of him sharing Spurs secrets with the enemy.