Kawhi Leonard injured his ankle during Tuesday’s Game 5 against the Houston Rockets. Since the injury, Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich has sat out Kawhi during Game 5’s OT and Game 6 as a whole. The Spurs managed to win both of these games. Kawhi received treatment on his ankle on Thursday and he could’ve played if they needed him to, but the Spurs thought the best decision was to not risk reaggravating the injury.
Prior to Thursday’s game, the Rockets had been 17-5 at home when facing elimination over the past twenty-five seasons, the NBA’s best record. Many didn’t expect the Spurs to win Game 6, especially without Kawhi, who’s averaging 27.8 points per game on 52.4% shooting these playoffs. However, if there’s one thing most NBA fans have learned over the years, it’s to never bet against Gregg Popovich.
Jonathan Simmons started in place of Kawhi in Game 6 and scored an efficient 18 points on 66.7% shooting. The Spurs made a mockery out of the Rockets and defeated them 114-75. This blowout was led by LaMarcus Aldridge who had his best game of the playoffs.
Despite the Spurs recent success without Kawhi in the lineup, he is still undoubtedly their most valuable player. They cannot afford to miss him for even a single game against the Golden State Warriors, who have swept their previous two opponents. They are going up against a different beast now. Luckily for the Spurs, Kawhi is expected to play in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals and us fans should be anticipating a classic.