The San Antonio Spurs and their coach, Gregg Popovich, are not too happy with the Golden State Warriors at the moment.
In Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Golden State center Zaza Pachulia had his foot in the landing zone of Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard on a third-quarter jump shot, causing the San Antonio star to awkwardly twist and re-injure his left ankle.
Leonard had to leave the game and could only watch from the sideline as his team blew a huge lead, eventually losing 113-111 in Oakland.
Leonard had an MRI after the game and, in a fortunate break for the Spurs, was found to have no structural damage to the ankle, according to ESPN reporter Michael C. Wright:
Of course, that doesn’t mean Leonard is not still in a tremendous amount of pain, as often a sprained ankle can hurt more than a broken ankle. Still, it’s good that he’ll be able to suit back up whenever he is physically able and won’t have to wear a cast for a set amount of time.
However, the Spurs aren’t exactly thrilled with how Leonard got injured, and Popovich tore into Pachulia during an interview session with reporters on Monday:
“Who gives a damn about what his intent was? You ever hear of manslaughter?” Popovich said. “You still go to jail, I think, when you’re texting and you end up killing somebody. But you might not have intended to do that.
“All I care is what I saw. All I care about is what happened and the history there exacerbates the whole situation, and makes me very, very angry.”
Obviously, it’s impossible for anyone other than Pachulia to determine what his intent was with the play, so we’ll never know whether the extra step while closing out on the shot was intentional or not.
But, with Leonard likely out for Game 2 on Tuesday night, the Spurs will be at a huge disadvantage against Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the Warriors. They probably won’t be able to win without their star forward dominating on both ends of the court, which means they’ll likely head back to San Antonio for Game 3 down 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.
When they do return to their home court, though, it’s safe to say Pachulia won’t receive a warm welcome from San Antonio fans. The Spurs faithful will be all-too-eager to let Pachulia hear about exactly what they think of what he did in Game 1 on Sunday afternoon.