‘We’ll figure it out’
Spurs prepare for Game 2 versus Warriors with no Leonard, Parker
If all hope seems lost for the San Antonio Spurs heading into Game 2 of the Western Conference finals without injured stars Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker, they only need to look back a few days to see what’s possible.
But even the Spurs know that beating Houston on the road in a series clincher without those two stars is a far different task than the one they face tonight against the Golden State Warriors with Leonard and Parker on the sideline.
“I understand the Warriors are a very talented team, so we’re going to have to be really sharp tomorrow,” forward Pau Gasol said. “We’ve got to limit our mistakes because those guys really make you pay. They have so many weapons that the game could swing in a heartbeat, as we experienced.”
Leonard’s injury when he landed on Zaza Pachulia’s foot and turned his already tender left ankle severely altered Game 1 and possibly the entire series. Golden State rallied from 23 points down after Leonard left to win 113-111 Sunday as the Spurs struggled on both ends of the court without one of the game’s best two-way players.
Leonard had an MRI on Monday and will not play in Game 2, leaving the Spurs angry at what they considered a dirty play by Pachulia and frustrated by their predicament.
“Yesterday in itself was a roller coaster, a lot of different emotional things going on,” guard Danny Green said. “The playoffs for us have been rough. No one will feel bad for us. We have to continue to go out there and play. There’s no Tony, no Kawhi as of right now. I felt like we’ve been to hell and back in just three hours. We’ll figure it out.”
The Warriors are expecting just that after watching role player Jonathan Simmons fill in with 18 points and stellar defence in the 114-75 win at Houston last Thursday and knowing how prepared and professional Gregg Popovich coached teams usually are.
“We have no intention of letting our guard down,” said Warriors big man David West, who played for the Spurs last season. “We know that they’re very capable and that system is as strong as it’s been. There
is no deviation in terms of our attack and our game plan. We’ll go out and try to protect our home court.”
Golden State dominated Game 1 after Leonard went down, outscoring the Spurs 58-33 to earn the comeback win. San Antonio shot just 37 per cent after the injury, with twice as many turnovers as assists. The Warriors, who struggled to score in the first half, shot 58 per cent after Leonard left.
But with time to prepare a new game plan without Leonard, the Warriors are expecting a different type of challenge in Game 2.
“It makes them less predictable,” Golden State forward Draymond Green said.
San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (centre) shoots in front of Golden State Warriors forward Matt Barnes (left) and forward David West during Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference finals in Oakland, Calif. on Sunday. "1 1)050