Game One of the Western Conference Finals was a highly anticipated affair, FINALLY we get to see the powerhouse Warriors face a worthy opponent in the San Antonio Spurs.
Well, it certainly didn't disappoint.. but who would have thought that Zaza Pachulia would end up having more of an impact than Curry and Durant combining for 74pts!
From the opening tip the Spurs looked engaged and ready to pull home-court out from under the Warriors. Everything was falling, their ball movement was flowing, and they were locked in defensively. Spurs held Warriors to 16 first quarter points, their lowest scoring quarter of the playoffs.
Kawhi Leonard looked as systematical and as superhuman as ever...
Spurs continued to stay piping hot through the second quarter finishing the half with a 20 point lead over the Warriors (62-42). Gregg Popovich was looking more and more like a white wizard genius than ever before and NBA twitter was in party mode.
Early in the 3rd quarter Steph Curry displayed some wizardry of his own using the Zaza pick to get open for back-to-back 3 pointers. Curry quickly clocked up 11 points in the first 3 mins of the quarter... However the Spurs always seemed to have an answer and kept their 20 point buffer intact.
At the 9:49 minute mark, Kawhi Leonard hits a 3 pointer in the corner and appears to tweak his ankle on his own bench.
The super computer hobbles for a while, shakes it off and continues to play. For the next couple of minutes Leonard battles through the ankle discomfort and the Spurs pull a 21 point lead on the Warriors.... THEN, it happens. At 7:55 Kawhi pulls up for a baseline jump shot tightly contested by Zaza Pachulia.... A little too tight. Kawhi goes down but this time it looks a lot worse.
Never ever has the name 'ZAZA PACHULIA' trended so quickly on twitter:
Kawhi left the game with 26 points (7-13 FG) and 8 rebounds. The rest is history. The Warriors went on an offensive homicide and outscored the Spurs 71-49 in the second half. Kevin Durant (34 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assist and 4 blocks) and Steph Curry (40 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals) willed the Warriors to a 113-111 win over the Spurs and keep 16-0 in play.
Kawhi's case for MVP was felt tonight as the Spurs were +21 with him on the floor tonight and -22 without him.
Leonard is in doubt for Game 2 on Tuesday night. He will undergo an MRI tomorrow. As for the Zaza Pachulia incident, Leonard said he doesn't feel it was a dirty play.
It's back to the drawing board for Gregg Popovich as he tries to master up a way to combat this Warriors fire power with or without Kawhi Leonard.