The Legend of Kawhi Leonard continues to grow
- Gregg Popovich is not one to typically toot his own players’ horns or try to promote them in front of the media, but he wasted no time in dubbing his player the best in the league:
“Kawhi Leonard is, in my opinion, the best player in the league right now,” Popovich said after San Antonio’s 103-96 Game 6 victory to eliminate Memphis on Thursday. “He’s the best two-way player and does it all with such class. It’s impressive.”
- In his recap of the series, James Hubert pf CBS Sports discusses the ever-growing legend of Leonard, Mike Conley finally getting the chance to show the world what he’s made of, and the very bright future that lies ahead for the Memphis Grizzlies. (If they can ever stay healthy, that is.)
- Leonard’s legend has grown so much, in fact, that his high school and college coaches have chimed in with Fox Sports’ San Gardner to tell the story of his rise from a relatively unheralded high school athlete to what they also believe is the best player in the league. (The most interesting part might be disputed accusations of other AAU athletes trying to blackball Leonard out of California’s top college programs, so it’s a must-read.)
Recapping the first round
- At the beginning of this series, Tony Parker was seen as an X-factor who could help determine the outcome. He ended up being more than that with four very good games and a vintage throwback one when his team needed him the most in Game 6. ESPN’s Michael Wright goes over how Parker found his second gear to become the second best player in the series for the Spurs.
- Speaking of which, over at Fox Sports Andrew Lynch discusses how Leonard’s performance against the Grizzlies could very well cause some MVP voters remorse, but he’s still going to need more help if the Spurs want to achieve their ultimate goal.
- Some of that help will need to come from LaMarcus Aldridge. Contrary to popular belief, LMA was very good against the Grizzlies, especially on defense where there aren’t enough numbers to do him justice, and he was happy to act as a decoy on offense and let the hot-handed Leonard and Parker have their shots. Still, Mike Finger of the SAEN notes that Spurs may need more than that from him in the next series where offense is going to take center stage.
The time has finally come: a playoff match-up 22 years in the making against the lone Western Conference opponent Tim Duncan never faced and neither he or the Spurs have ever defeated in a playoff series: the Houston Rockets. With the clash of styles and all four regular-season meetings coming down to the wire, this should be a doozy.
- Fran Blineburry of NBA.com took a quick peek at the series with three quick questions, numbers breakdown, and a prediction.
- Over at CBS Sports, our good friend Matt Moore of the “there’s something wrong with these Spurs but I can’t out my finger on it” clan does his own extensive breakdown of the series.
- At BBallBreakdown, Coach Nick talked to former NBA referee and Director of Officials Ronnie Nunn to discuss James Harden’s penchant for drawing fouls (particularly on the perimeter), if they are legit calls, and what players can do avoid giving him the opportunity to draw them. (You can watch below or click on this link.)
While it may be an issue the league will take a look at over the summer, it’s something the Spurs will have to be conscious of, especially considering they had a few problems with giving up three FT’s to the Grizzlies, who aren’t typically known for drawing such calls.
Have an excellent Game 7-free weekend!