In the third quarter of Game 1, with the Spurs in firm control against the Warriors, Leonard aggravated the injury when he stepped on the left foot of the Warriors’ Zaza Pachulia. The Spurs crumbled without Leonard, squandering a 23-lead after he limped to the locker room. The Spurs followed that up by getting crushed in Game 2, a 36-point loss that Leonard watched from the team hotel.
“I think we had the game in which we felt sorry for ourselves and we struggled mentally, and now it’s over,” the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili said. “If he plays — great, because, of course, we all know what he’d give us on the court. If he doesn’t, we’ve got to go and compete as hard as we can and do our best game. I think we do have to believe. We have no option.”
Both teams have been off since Tuesday, an extended break that has given Leonard more time to receive treatment in hopes of returning for Game 3. He had done some light shooting at practice.
“It’s getting better,” he said. “If I feel good, I’m going to play.”
For Leonard, “good” would be defined by not having to hobble around and launch off-balance shots, he said. He had a litmus test in mind.
“Just want to be able to push with both legs,” he said, adding: “It’s frustrating. You work all year to get to this point, and not being able to help the team win a game or just being able to play is all very frustrating.”
On Thursday, Leonard was named first-team All-N.B.A. for the second straight season. He is possibly the best two-way player in the league, and the Spurs lean on his defense as much as they do his offense. A 6-foot-7 forward, he averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists during the regular season.
He sprained his left ankle in Game 5 of the conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets. He missed Game 6,…