San Francisco (AFP) – San Antonio Spurs star forward Kawhi Leonard said Friday his sprained left ankle has improved, but whether he can play or not against Golden State on Saturday remains uncertain.
The Warriors lead the Spurs 2-0 in the best-of-seven NBA Western Conference Finals entering game three Saturday at San Antonio. Golden State is 10-0 in the playoffs and would match the best start in NBA playoff history with another win.
Leonard hurt his ankle in game one, when the Spurs squandered a 25-point lead in losing, and was absent for game two Tuesday, when the Warriors ripped San Antonio 136-100.
“It’s getting better. Just got to keep waiting day-to-day,” Leonard said. “I’ve been at practice, just watching and things. But just a lot of treatment.
“It’s still not ready. It’s just questionable for tomorrow. I could be feeling way better. So we’ll see tomorrow.
“If I feel good, I’m going to play.”
Leonard said he would have “a lot of input” into the decision about whether or not he plays and will judge his fitness on how near he comes to full speed.
“Just seeing if I can run and at least be myself on the court,” he said. “Don’t want to hobble around and shoot off-balance shots. Just want to be able to push with both legs.”
Eight wins from a second NBA title in four seasons, two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Leonard has been annoyed at being reduced to a spectator after averaging 25.5 points a game this season.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “You work all year to get to this point and not being able to help the team win a game or just being able to play is all very frustrating.”
Leonard said he won’t have any mental hurdles to overcome when he goes back on the court, either.
“If I’m going to be like that, then that means I’m hurt and I shouldn’t be playing,” he said. “It’s just a mindset of going out there and just preparing myself to win.”
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Leonard has taken shots during practice sessions but his absence has not altered the workout regimen greatly.
“Either he’s going to play or he’s not,” Popovich said. “Everything else you just work on what you want to work on.”
Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said the team is approaching the contest as a must-win scenario with or without Leonard.
“You hope that he’s ready and he can help us. If he doesn’t, we’ll try to face the game as if it’s a game seven,” the Argentine playmaker said. “We know going down 3-0 would be tough to overcome and game three is huge.”