SAN FRANCISCO: San Antonio Spurs All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard will play in Sunday’s NBA Western Conference finals opener at Golden State despite a nagging left ankle injury, coach Gregg Popovich said Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
“He’s going to play,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
Leonard, who injured his ankle in a victory Tuesday, sat out San Antonio’s 114-75 triumph Thursday at Houston that advanced the Spurs into a matchup against the Warriors, who seek a third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.
“He looked better today,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “It’s short rest, so I assume he’s going to be ready. We haven’t seen him play. He’s resting and trying to be ready for tomorrow, so we’ll see.”
Popovich said Leonard was a full participant in Saturday’s workout but Ginobili indicated that was an exaggeration.
“Full is a big word,” the Argentine playmaker said. “In this case, Pop is concerned and we want to be sure that he’s ready for when it counts, not today.”
The Spurs are without French star guard Tony Parker, out for the remainder of the playoffs with a torn left quadriceps.
Jonathon Simmons filled in for Leonard on Thursday and scored 18 points in the rout of the Rockets.
Leonard — averaging 27.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists in the playoffs — suffered the injury when he landed on the foot of Houston’s James Harden while turning to run in the third quarter of game five.