San Antonio Spurs forward Kahwi Leonard missed most of the 4th quarter and all the overtime period of Game 5, that saw the Spurs edge out the Houston Rockets 110-107, due to an ankle injury.
But if anyone is wondering if Leonard will take the court for Game 6, he put the speculation to rest.
“Yeah, I’m going to be able to play,” Leonard said (h/t ESPN). “It was frustrating because I wanted to play. But I was happy seeing my teammates out there putting in a good effort and getting the win.”
Leonard wanted to stay in the game during Game 5, but the Spurs’ staff decided to hold him out.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich knows Leonard has been battling the injury.
“He’s had issues, and you could tell just before he took a couple of shots he jumped off one foot,” Popovich said.
“He didn’t want to come out, obviously. We let him play a little while just to see what he was going to be like, but it was obvious that he couldn’t go. So I think everybody else picked it up very well.”
The Spurs travel to Houston in what should be another exciting and intense game in what has turned out to be one of the better NBA playoff series of the 2017 postseason.
“It’s going to be tough. They’re a great offensive team,” Leonard said.
“They’re a bunch of competitive guys. They play great at home. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be about taking care of the ball, playing confident and trying to minimize our mistakes.”
When Leonard exited the lineup, Spurs’ veteran Manu Ginobili picked up the slack and carried the Spurs to victory in Game 5, racking up 12 points and making a key block on Rockets’ guard James Harden to seal the Spurs victory.
“It was tough when we saw Kawhi kind of limping,” Ginobili said. “We knew it was going to be a tough one. But they had it tough, too, and they’re missing Nene, too. We really hustled down the stretch and made some good plays.
When asked about what he thought of Leonard’s injury after Game 5, Ginobili expressed his initial concern.
“I don’t even want to think about it because Kawhi became our go-to guy, our 3 guy, 3 defender, rebounder,” Ginobili said.
“He does a ton of things for us. If he can’t be out there, it’s going to be very hard to react to it. For sure, it’s going to be a tough battle over there.”
If Las Vegas is opening up a betting line, it’s a safe play to bet on Leonard taking the court for Game 6 in Houston, which may not be good news for the Rockets.