Spurs at Warriors
The San Antonio Spurs were on their way to a shocking win in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals until star small forward Kawhi Leonard went down with a sprained left ankle in the third quarter and the Golden State Warriors responded with a big rally. Leonard will be on the sidelines Tuesday, while the Warriors try to stay undefeated in the postseason and take a 2-0 lead in the series when they host Game 2.
The Spurs led by as much as 25 points and were up 23 when Leonard landed on Golden State center Zaza Pachulia's foot after attempting a jump shot with 7:53 left in the third quarter, forcing him out of the game for good. The Warriors immediately went on an 18-0 run and outscored San Antonio 58-33 after Leonard's exit en route to a 113-111 triumph. "I think it was the pressure," Spurs point guard Patty Mills told reporters of the difference, according to ESPN.com. "They upped their defensive pressure, and we kind of got rattled from that, not knowing what to go to and being organized. For the majority of the game, we were organized. We were trying to take the air out of the gym. But they upped their aggressiveness defensively, and it kind of caught us out of rhythm." The Spurs can look to recent history when starting a game without Leonard after crushing the Houston Rockets 114-75 with the star on the bench in the clinching game of the conference semifinals.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT THE SPURS: Leonard originally suffered the injury in the last round and aggravated the ankle by stepping on the foot of one of his own teammates on the bench earlier in Game 1 before landing on Pachulia and leaving the contest. "Our best player is down," San Antonio guard Danny Green told reporters. "We don't know where he is (physically). We still have a chance at something special. We felt with him, we had really good chances. Nobody is happy about it." Leonard scored 26 points in 24 minutes before leaving the opener and power forward LaMarcus Aldridge tried to pick up the slack while posting 28 points but missed a tying 3-point attempt in the final seconds.
ABOUT THE WARRIORS: Golden State is being led by assistant coach Mike Brown while head coach Steve Kerr continues to deal with complications from back surgery, but Kerr watched the game from the locker room on Sunday and delivered the team a pep talk during halftime with the Warriors down 20 points. “It’s always great to hear coach Kerr’s voice and give his perspective,” Curry told reporters. “It’s actually a fresh perspective from somebody who is watching the game, so he sees a lot of different angles and he sees how things are developing from a broader perspective. So, that’s obviously huge for us." Curry scored 26 of his 40 points after the break while Durant, who was hounded by Leonard for the first 28 minutes of the contest, saw things open up on the offensive end in the second half as well.
1. Warriors SF Andre Iguodala (left knee) logged only 10 minutes on Sunday and is questionable for Game 2 - the MRI exam he underwent on Monday displayed no structural damage.
2. Mills went 1-of-8 from the floor in Game 1, including 0-of-6 from 3-point range.
3. Golden State SG Klay Thompson struggled to six points on 2-of-11 shooting in Game 1 - the second time in the last three games that he scored just six points.