Leonard, Spurs will stick to traditional methods of defense against LeBron


VIDEO: Kawhi Leonard talks about the matchup with the Heat

SAN ANTONIO – And now … the San Antonio Spurs player most likely to blow in LeBron James‘ ear…?

(Crickets).

“There isn’t one,” Spurs forward Matt Bonner said, straight-faced.

Right.

The stoic, disciplined and ultra-professional Spurs have no need for the brand of antics that Pacers guard Lance Stephenson brought to the floor in his personal battle against the two-time Finals MVP during the Eastern Conference finals.

The Spurs, rest assured, will not employ it as a tactic against James.

“Uh, not on purpose,” said Spurs guard Danny Green, who could see time against James as well as Dwyane Wade, said. “That stuff doesn’t work against him and that only makes him better, I think, from the aspect of many different areas. We kind of don’t want to wake a sleeping a giant.”

Not that James has really been sleeping, but in the Spurs and Heat splitting the regular-season series (one game apiece, a blowout per side), the Spurs did as good a job as any team in letting alpha dogs lie. He averaged 18.5 ppg, less than only the Bulls allowed (18.3). Part of that is due to the blowout nature of the two games and James logging an average of only 32.9 minutes in the two games. Still, check out the shooting percentage, and the Spurs limited James to 42.4 percent (14-for-33) from the floor and 16.7 percent (1-for-6) from 3-point range. James’ percentages during the regular season were 56.7 and 37.9.

It makes sense with the Bulls employing Jimmy Butler and their intensely physical defense on James, and the Spurs using 6-foot-7, 230-pound Kawhi Leonard backed by a smart, cohesive unit that was quite successful in last year’s Finals of keeping James from rampaging through the lane.

Leonard, fresh off tracking regular-season MVP Kevin Durant in the West finals, will get the bulk of the LeBron load. On Tuesday, the third-year small forward was named to his first NBA All-Defensive team, making the second team.

“It’s just great that people are starting to notice that I’m giving my effort out there on the floor at both ends and just finally starting to get noticed,” Leonard said. “That’s what I pretty much feel about it.”

James obviously faced Leonard a year ago in the Finals, so he probably knows he’s not going to hear much in the way of trash talk, or much of any talk at all from the famously quiet Leonard. Leonard said he doesn’t get involved in conversations of any kind with the man he’s tasked to guard.

“No,” Leonard said, “no I don’t. I just talk to my teammates, tell them I got help-side or something like that, but not really a conversation to try to get into somebody’s head.”

18 Comments

  1. George says:

    San Antonio came within a whisker to win last year’s finals against the Miami Heat. They were 5 points up in Miami until Duncan was inexplicably withdrawn during the dying embers of the game. If the spurs keep up their exquisite professionalism on the court, I for one expect them to be crowned champions this year. I don’t expect San Antonio to be out of luck this time around.

  2. spurs WILL WIN says:

    spurs in 6

  3. FUTURECELTIC says:

    Spurs are ready for Miami. Lets hope they can continue it.

  4. NBA's $ way says:

    The Spurs need a Manu replacement in the off season…Turner & Deng should be on the Spurs Radar, along with taj gibson and pau gasol.

    • realist says:

      i can see deng and gasol’s game fit in the spurs’ style of play. gasol’s as a good complement to splitter’s/duncan’s game. taj gibson may also be a good fit though i doubt they can get him. turner? not so sure, he needs (wants) the ball in his hands a lot

  5. Wuspursfan says:

    lol this guy’s smile never last over a second
    silent but big in the finals gospursgo

  6. Matt jones says:

    This is going to be a good matchup, but at the end the spurs are going to get the W!

  7. kobeballhog says:

    Spurs is made up of professional personnel. Heat is a mature ball club even okc knows how to handle themselves decently. Only lance stephenson is a born clown immature wants attention insecure psychotic bonehead

  8. M1978 says:

    There were great players who did some trash talking. But it’s utterly useless, funny when someone acts like the devil of the basketball court and his team gets beaten by 20-30 points. Lance Stevenson and Indiana have done so.

  9. Mike says:

    I’ll never forget an article I read years ago about Tim Duncan, and it kind of reminds me of Leonard too. “There’s no hype, no trash-talk. Just get a double-double, nail a game-winner then go home and eat a sandwich.”

  10. Carlo says:

    Trash talking to Westbrook (if it really happened) may have been a sure-fire tactic. Everybody know he’s goign to lose his mind quickly.

  11. Omar says:

    Idk about kawhi not trash talking, go look at game 5 against the thunder it sure looks like he’s talking smack to Westbrook the whole game lol

  12. dwine says:

    Sometimes Silence is a very BIG weapon with regards to competion. That is why I like this guy a silent and humble but a deadly player on both ends of the floor.

  13. SRS says:

    ROFL, yeh i loved that “make him shoot the ball” mentality they pushed him into last year…

  14. Mud says:

    I love this guy. He’s quiet and fiercely competitive. He has the skill to be a big star if he had his own team to lead. I see a big future for this fellow.

  15. timpson says:

    There’s no need to talk trash just go play the game.

  16. mee(a)t says:

    Sometimes it seems like its a sin to interview Spurs players..