Kawhi Leonard didn't think Warriors centre Zaza Pachulia intentionally tried to injure him Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. But in a series like the West finals, matching the Warriors' lethal outside shooters against a Spurs team that led the league in 3-point percentage during the regular season, neither team is going to want to allow too much space.
Kawhi Leonard isn't taking it personally after landing on Zaza Pachulia's foot in Game 1 and leaving with an ankle injury.
The Spurs started Game 1 of the Western Conferene Finals looking like it was still Game 6 vs. the Rockets.
Mills made two free throws to get it back to 111-110 but Curry stepped up when it counted, getting a friendly roll on a mid-range jumper to hit the 40-point mark and go up 113-110.
No one, however, could have predicted it to play out the way it did.
Golden State pulled out one of the biggest comebacks in National Basketball Association play-off history by coming back from 25 points down to pull out a victory in game one of the National Basketball Association western conference finals.
"For me it's a little different because I hear his voice a couple times a day", Brown said. "But once we relaxed... that's what Coach kept saying, relax, take it one possession at a time, and we were able to get back into it". It's definitely a nice way to win Game 1.
One of those narratives that was established in the 25-point comeback by the Warriors, was the play of Stephen Curry. After all, the left ankle injury that decommissioned Leonard was borne of a freak occurrence - or, to be more precise, of a set of freak occurrences. Kevin Durant said he was winded in the fourth quarter. He had poured in 18 points and Aldridge 17 in a stunning first-half offensive display by the Spurs, who held a 62-42 halftime advantage.
Somehow, these unusually careless, cold-shooting Warriors found a way to keep their unblemished postseason record alive at 9-0. The Warriors were losing big early because they couldn't hit the broadside of the barn, not because San Antonio split the atom. Shortly after, Pachulia slid toward Leonard as he took a shot and the Spurs star fell into the Spurs bench, grabbing his ankle. Without Leonard, the Spurs likely have no chance to knock off the Warriors in this series. LaMarcus Aldridge went 3-of-11 from the field for eight points after Leonard left. "We need Kawhi to create, to score". "So we couldn't react to his absence".
On the defensive end, the impact of the injury could be measured thusly: When Leonard was on the floor, the Warriors shot just 38 percent.
"We'll see what the MRI says, but obviously he won't play tomorrow", Popovich said. "So the more he can be around, it's a better feel that all of us have, not just the players but us as a staff".
It was a wasted opportunity for the Spurs, who had the Warriors on the ropes until bad luck got in the way.
"Tough loss", Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. We understand that. It should give us some momentum, if anything, to know that we're this close.
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