Kawhi Leonard wasn’t back for Game 3 and the Warriors seized control of the Western Conference Finals.
No Gregg Popovich-coached team will ever admit defeat, but Spurs’ tone is ever candid, free from illusion. Their focus is certainly no longer on winning the series; it’s on competing in Game 4 and finishing up with their heads held high.
Leonard isn’t likely to play in Game 4 either, according to Pop, and Vegas has proceeded to make Golden State a 12-point favorite, which is the most prudent course of action. I don’t think Leonard will play either; neither he nor the Spurs have much reason to push his anke but let’s not be shocked if he shows up ready to play. That possibility isn’t reason alone to take the Spurs tonight but it only makes the points more attractive.
Danny Green‘s comments about being “here trying to make history” exhibit the loose mentality the Spurs will play with tonight; he and Patty Mills won’t have to look twice before throwing up any threes. It could also be Manu Ginobili‘s last game in a Spurs uniform and he’s never lacked any bravado.
Otherwise, tonight is all about pride that will, no doubt, start with Popovich himself.
When the Trail Blazers got down 3-0 to Golden State, they submitted and let themselves be carried off for slaughtering, like a chicken. The Jazz looked like they were set to do the same before starting to fight for their playoff lives too late. I would be surprised if the Spurs did anything but give the Warriors hell from the opening tip tonight.
Even at home, the Spurs without Leonard are every bit as inferior as the 12-point line suggests but I’m betting that San Antonio will be free, easy, and very much determined to fight until the end. It’s about principle more than anything else.
Free Pick: Spurs +12
Golden State Warriors • San Antonio Spurs • Western Conference Playoffs