The confirmation that San Antonio All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard would play in Game 1 Sunday of his team's Western Conference finals against Golden State was welcome news to the Spurs.
Key stats: Golden State has won 23 of its past 24 games, including two playoff series sweeps with an average victory margin of 16.5 points; San Antonio has allowed the postseason's second-lowest opponent field goal percentage (43.6), which only the Warriors (40.7) outdid. By not fighting through the injury he may have been able to increase the speed of his recovery. He had 22 triple-doubles in the regular season and became the first player in National Basketball Association history to have 2,000 points (2,356), 900 assists (907) and 600 rebounds (659) in a single season.
"I don't know if it's true or not, but it's nearly like mentally it just zapped us", he said.
Leonard had just a few days to get healthy.
After acknowledging for several years that they aspire to be Spurs 2.0, the Warriors will come face to face with the real thing in the next round of the playoffs.
"They murdered us that in first game with rebounds, but that was the first game of the season".
While he still keeps in touch with Curry and others, Lee is downplaying any potential nostalgia from his time with Golden State.
In the absence of Leonard and with point guard Tony Parker out to a leg injury, San Antonio have needed LaMarcus Aldridge to step up and the big man has delivered.
The Warriors failed to cover as 15½-point home favorites over the Trail Blazers in Game 1 of their first-round series and also didn't cover as 13-point home chalk over the Jazz in Game 1 of their semifinal series.
The Warriors are led by four All-Stars - Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green - and enter the conference finals with a ideal playoff record.
"I feel so sorry for him because he's had an unbelievable - he's had an historic year", coach Mike D'Antoni said. After all, only the Warriors were better than the Spurs (61-21) this season.
San Antonio was up by 23 after the third quarter and scored the first seven points of the fourth to make it 94-64 and send numerous home fans streaming to the exits. Danny Green is another good player for the Spurs system, but going against Klay Thompson, who plays both ends of the court at an elite level, it is hard to get excited that Green will outplay Thompson. "So I was willing to take some contested shots tonight and I got into my rhythm early and after that I was good to go".