Leonard will play in Game 1 of conference finals Sunday, Pop says

Western Conference finals schedule

Game 1: Sunday, 2:30 p.m., Oakland, Calif.
Game 2: Tuesday, 8 p.m., Oakland
Game 3: Saturday, May 20, 8 p.m., AT&T Center
Game 4: Monday, May 22, 8 p.m., AT&T Center
*Game 5: Wednesday, May 24, 8 p.m., Oakland
*Game 6: Friday, May 26, 8 p.m., AT&T Center
*Game 7: Sunday, May 28, 8 p.m., Oakland
*If necessary

SAN ANTONIO – All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard will play in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Saturday after practice.

Leonard sat out the Spurs’ series-clinching victory over the Houston Rockets with an ankle injury on Thursday. 

Leonard, who sprained his left ankle in San Antonio’s overtime win in Game 5 on Tuesday night, participated in the workout and could be seen shooting free throws with his teammates when the media was allowed to watch the end of the session.

He did not appear to be limping and worked on his jumper while teammate David Lee was interviewed by the media.

Leonard was not made available to the media.

“He’s going to play,” Popovich told reporters.

Asked if Leonard fully participated in practice Saturday, Popovich said, “Absolutely.”

The Spurs play the Warriors in the opener of the Western Conference finals at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Oakland, Calif. Golden State has won the West title each of the past two seasons.

The Warriors (67-15) and Spurs (61-21) finished the regular season with the best records in the NBA.

Popovich drew chuckles from the media with his one-word reply to a question about what the Spurs' basic approach would be against the explosive Warriors: "Pray."

Leonard, San Antonio’s leading scorer, injured his ankle when he inadvertently stepped on Rockets guard James Harden’s left foot while chasing a loose ball with 5:37 left in the third quarter of Game 5. He stayed in the game and played the entire period, scoring 10 of his team-high 22 points.

Leonard started the fourth quarter but was pulled by Popovich with 5:37 remaining in the period when it became obvious Leonard couldn’t push off his left foot. He did not score in the fourth quarter and stayed on the bench for the rest of the game after he was pulled.

The Spurs went on to beat the Rockets 110-107 in a dramatic overtime thriller at the AT&T Center, taking a 3-2 lead in the conference semifinals. The Silver and Black closed out the series two nights later in Houston, rolling to an 114-75 rout in Game 6 without Leonard and Tony Parker, who was lost for the remainder of the postseason after rupturing a left quadriceps tendon in Game 4.

San Antonio won the season series against Golden State 2-1. The Spurs cruised to a 129-100 victory against the Warriors in their season opener in Oakland, Calif.

With both teams shorthanded, the Silver and Black won the second meeting 107-85 on March 11 at the AT&T Center.

The Spurs played without Leonard (concussion protocol), LaMarcus Aldridge (medical), Tony Parker (back stiffness) and Dajounte Murray (left groin tightness). Golden State coach Steve Kerr rested Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. All-Star forward Kevin Durant was still sidelined with a knee injury he sustained on Feb. 28.

Golden State all but wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the West with a 110-98 victory over the Spurs on March 29 at the AT&T Center.

Curry and Thompson scored 29 and 23 points, respectively, for the Warriors. The Warriors shot 51.2 percent overall (43/84) and were 50 percent (13/26) from the 3-point line. Curry and Thompson each nailed four 3-pointers.

Leonard led the Spurs with 19 points, but he missed 13 of 20 shots and went 0 for 5 from the 3-point line. Pau Gasol finished with 18 points, followed by Aldridge (17) and Danny Green (16). Green sank 4 of 8 shots from beyond the arc.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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