SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard will not play against Golden State in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals because of a sprained left ankle.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said Leonard was not happy being told he will sit out with the Warriors leading the series 2-0.
“Kawhi is out,” Popovich said. “I spoke to Kawhi, we spoke to everybody, we all speak about it,” Popovich said. “In the end, I guess it’s my decision. He’s not thrilled he’s not playing, but he’s not ready.”
Leonard, who was selected to the All-NBA first team on Friday, has not played since aggravating the injury in the third quarter of Game 1 and has not participated in practice other than light shooting.
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He initially injured the ankle against Houston in Game 5 of their second-round series on May 9 after inadvertently stepping on James Harden’s foot while in transition.
Leonard aggravated the injury twice in the third quarter of Game 1 against the Warriors on May 14, including a controversial close-out by Zaza Pachulia that Popovich called “dangerous” and “unsportsmanlike.”
Pachulia, who suffered a bruised right heel in Game 2, will also not play in Game 3.
Leonard returned to Game 1 against Golden State after stepping on the foot of teammate David Lee, who was sitting on the bench. But shortly after returning, Leonard landed on Pachulia’s foot while attempting a 3-pointer and had to be helped off the court.
The Warriors were expecting Leonard to play despite the injury, with Kevin Durant stating he was “100 percent” certain the All-Star forward would start Game 3.
The news also took the Spurs by surprise.
“No Kawhi?” Danny Green asked incredulously during Saturday morning’s shootaround when asked about playing without Leonard.
“Still hope. I’m still going to hope until tipoff that he’s going to show up with a cape.”
The Warriors have outscored the Spurs by 61 points since Leonard exited Game 1 with 7:52 remaining in the third quarter. San Antonio was leading 78-55 when Leonard exited, but Golden State went on a 16-0 run and has not looked back since the series-altering injury.