SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Spurs All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard, still nursing a sore left ankle, is expected to return against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
Leonard, who injured his ankle Tuesday, missed the Spurs’ semifinals-clinching 114-75 win in Game 6 over the Houston Rockets on Thursday night. The Spurs got a season-high 34 points from LaMarcus Aldridge and played without Leonard and Tony Parker (torn left quadriceps).
The Spurs made the decision to sit Leonard to get him healthy for Sunday, according to reports. He received treatment on his ankle throughout the day Thursday and spent the game in the Spurs’ locker room and not on the bench. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich announced before the game that Leonard would not play. Jonathon Simmons filled in for Leonard and scored 18 points.
“Everybody picked it up,” Popovich said after the Game 6 win. “Four, five, six guys all had good games. It wasn’t one guy scoring 40 or anything like that.
“Everybody contributed. It was a real team effort with (32) assists and just (seven) turnovers. They played well at the offensive ends with a lot of sets, and at the defensive end it was one of our best nights as far as scrambling around trying to keep up with these guys.”
Leonard walked slowly but was able to participate in the team’s shootaround on Thursday morning. The 25-year-old told reporters that he would play in Game 6 shortly after the Spurs claimed a 3-2 edge in the series following a 110-107 win on Tuesday night.
Leonard sustained the injury when he came down on the foot of Houston’s James Harden while turning to run up the court with 5:37 remaining in the third quarter of Game 5. He played half of the fourth quarter and did not take the court for overtime but still led the Spurs with 22 points and 15 rebounds.
Leonard is averaging 27.8 points on 52.4 percent shooting, 7.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists during the postseason.