Spurs' Kawhi Leonard ruled out of series opener against Warriors

Warriors loss eliminates potential first round matchup with Thunder

Warriors loss eliminates potential first round matchup with Thunder

However, Patty Mills plays up top with Murray and may actually be tasked with guarding Cook so that Murray, the superior defender, can try and contain Klay Thompson as he runs through, under, and around screens all night.

The Rockets lost only four games all season when both guards played.

Some have wondered why Leonard has not been with the team during games.

The Warriors have been hurt and humbled. However, Stephen Curry missed 31 games because of nagging lower-leg injuries.

Golden State's success has been due to its star point guard Stephen Curry and its star forward Kevin Durant.

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The San Antonio Spurs will not have forward Kawhi Leonard (return from injury management) back for Game 1 against the Golden State Warriors after all. Nevertheless, his skill level all over the court remains extremely high, and much as the two-post line-ups featuring him and Aldridge are increasingly anomalous in the modern National Basketball Association, it does mean opposing defences are not used to game-planning against it any longer. "We know who we are and we need him". We know this team well, we know the Spurs well, so we know what we have to do. Unfortunately, this is not going to be the heavy-weight battle we are used to seeing when these two meet. "The last month, our defense has really suffered". The Spurs under Gregg Popovich are better than anyone else at taking advantage of their opponents' mistakes, and could conceivably win this series by forcing the Curry-less Warriors into enough mistakes to win. "Draymond sees the game, defensively, steps ahead", his college coach, Tom Izzo, told me by phone. It was a broom made of metaphysical middle fingers - to Kawhi, to the Spurs, to all the fans who just wanted to see what it looked like when two flawless basketball teams played ideal basketball against each other.

"It causes too much stress, man", James said after a 137-116 victory in Game 4 to stave off a sweep.

In the wake of the Chronicle story, I asked Morey why it's so hard for even the best teams to have fun. I'm not trying to give them the historical carrot - like this is what we can accomplish. He added, "I don't want to have to be the leader. We're that close. He's my mentor and he's somebody I feel incredibly strongly about in terms of who he is and what he did for me in my life, and what he's doing for my son right now".

Who else but the Golden State Warriors would be the favorites to win the West?

Kevin Durant will likely be handling the ball on a lot of possessions to get the Warriors offense going without Curry.

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The Spurs noted in a tweet: "Kawhi Leonard [return from injury management] is out for tomorrow's Spurs-Warriors game". "They were more aggressive than us".

"He's the focus for them, for us", Ginobili said.

The Spurs realize the challenges. But as they say, the playoffs is when the real season begins. The Cavaliers brought their A-game in Game 3, which they could have won if not for an open missed corner 3-pointer by Kyle Korver and Durant's heroics. Golden State ranks second in offensive efficiency and San Antonio ranks fourth in defensive efficiency. Here are five keys to the series if the Spurs are to prevail.

Without Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge continues to lead this squad. This team has fought and put ourselves in a position to be here.

Last offseason, Durant inked a discounted two-year, $51 million deal that included an opt-out clause.

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It might be Zaza Pachulia.

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