One problem. Somebody forgot to tell the Rockets to show up for the most important game of the year as they came in and absolutely stunk up the place to the tune of a 114-75 beat-down.
The Spurs coach suggested that Leonard had not suffered a serious injury when he announced in full Popovichian form that the MVP candidate would not play hours before Game 6.
Per ESPN Stats & Information, the Spurs were 8.5-point underdogs against the Rockets on Thursday night, the second-largest underdog they've been in 268 playoff games under Gregg Popovich.
We didn't give them a chance to find their rhythm or get their crowd involved in the game. Leonard is one of the game's most impactful two-way players, averaging 27 points, six rebounds and four assists in splitting a pair of games against the Warriors this season.
"I don't think too much about carrying over this, that, or the other", Popovich said.
"I was trying to be more dominant down there".
Up next for the Spurs are the top-seeded team Golden State Warriors for the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals in a battle of this season's top two teams.
Harden accepted some of the blame for the loss. Everything falls on my shoulders. "I take responsibility for it".
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"It could, "he said".
"We just took control of the pace offensively and played really solid defence". It'll be the Spurs' first time in Oakland since they spoiled the Warriors' season-opener with a 29-point blowout road win.
They lost Tim Duncan to retirement last summer, then saw veteran point guard Tony Parker go down with a season-ending quadriceps tendon tear in Game 2. He did not score in the fourth quarter and stayed on the bench for the rest of the game after he was pulled.
Three-point scoring will also be a major factor in this series for both teams. He went 2-for-11 from the field and 2-for-9 from long distance. Aldridge was the linchpin, posting 34 points and 12 rebounds, but he had plenty of help as the Spurs set up a date opposite the Golden State Warriors.
Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard shoots for a basket against Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley, right.
Rockets: Ariza received a technical in the third for the scuffle with Ariza.
Mike D'Antoni is a realist. Dekker had six points. Clint Capela had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Gasol on the lopsided win: "No one expected a Game 6. win like this, but we just played hard".
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