Kawhi Leonard elevated his game this season, making himself a legitimate MVP candidate. He somehow improved on his numbers during the Spurs’ first-round playoff series against the Grizzlies, averaging more points, rebounds, assists and steals among other stats.
After the Spurs won the series 4-2 Thursday night, Leonard’s coach Gregg Popovich made a bold declaration: Kawhi Leonard is, in my opinion, the best player in the league right now. He’s the best two-way player, and does it all with such class, it’s impressive.
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The Spurs led by as many as 28 points in the third quarter as LaMarcus Aldridge played like the superstar he was expected to be when he left Portland in 2015 to join the Spurs.
Aldridge more than picked up the slack in Leonard’s absence. The five-time All-Star led six Spurs scorers in double figures with a season-high 34 points and 12 rebounds.
Role players like Danny Green, Kyle Anderson and Dejounte Murray all contributed to the dominant victory.
The Spurs will now have a few days for Leonard to rest his injured ankle before facing the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, which begin Sunday in Oakland.
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If Spurs coach Gregg Popovich can figure out how to get quality minutes from Simmons to go with the scoring ability of Aldridge and Leonard, the Spurs have a great chance of derailing the Warriors on their way to the assumed NBA Finals rematch with the Cavaliers.