More ‘Nasty’ needed from Leonard


VIDEO: Kawhi Leonard talks about the challenges he’s faced dealing with LeBron James

MIAMI — The “easiest target in sports” has been anything but for San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard through two games of these NBA Finals.

Even before cramps snatched him from the picture in Game 1, Leonard had his hands full dealing with Miami Heat star LeBron James. If the Spurs are going to have any chance of stealing Game 3 tonight at AmericanAirlines Arena, they need a little more, as Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been known to call it, “nasty” from the soft-spoken Leonard.

Leonard has just four rebounds through two games and hasn’t been able to slow James down much. Plus, Leonard fouled out of a game for the first time in his career in the Spurs’ Game 2 loss. Basically, he’s been a shell of the aggressive and physical player we all saw before The Finals (prompting many of us to tab him as the X-factor going into this series).

Popovich said he hasn’t had to do or say anything extra to motivate Leonard, whose play throughout the playoffs was one of the most noticeable differences between this Spurs team and last year’s version — particularly in the Western Conference finals against Oklahoma City.

But he has noticed a change in The Finals when LeBron became the primary assignment.

“The only thing is he sometimes has a tendency when he does foul to back off, because he doesn’t want to foul again and wants to do the right thing,” Popovich said. “Almost like too nice a guy, so to speak, instead of just keep playing. He’s a young kid and he’s learning that.”

Manu Ginobili said he hasn’t offered up any extra advice, not with Pop and Tim Duncan already in Leonard’s ear about his play and guarding LeBron. Ginobili didn’t feel the need to point out the obvious.

“I think he’s a tough kid, a great competitor, Pop has already been talking to him a lot,” he said, “so I don’t think that it’s good when somebody gets talked to by everybody all the time. He knows what to do. Pop has been doing a great job with him, and if Tim helps, too, it’s enough.

“We don’t have to be all over him. He’s had just a couple of okay games, I don’t think it was terrible, just okay games. He missed a few shots, got in foul trouble early and that can mess up your minutes and typical playing time. But I think he’ll be fine.”

17 Comments

  1. out there says:

    funny how such talk still exist. the “slurs” just BEAT the heat. looks like saying no one can beat them is dreaming. sure they won last year. but that IS last year. last i checked, the finals is still being played THIS year. as game 1 shows, without lebron the chances for the heat to win greatly diminsh. it’s a TEAM sport not a SUPERSTAR sport. else they should say this series is between the san antonio spurs versus the miami lebron

  2. b3atbugg says:

    Thata a whole lotta nasty right there in game 3..

  3. TMac says:

    Not going to even deny it…Kawhi came in and showed out in game 3. Spurs looked like they were at practice the first half. I don’t believe anybody (even a Heat fan) can say Spurs didn’t earn that win. Spurs’ offense was the down fall of the Heat and the Heat’s defense was down fall of the Heat. An announcer said (can’t remember which one) that the Heat played like they were expecting Spurs not to show up…..and I agree. Like I don’t care if they are at home, you should never turn your nose up at the opposing team like the Spurs…..if you do you will get a burned….plan and simple.

  4. Kimmy says:

    I agree with you Esc, the San Antonio Slurs it is..I take offense that you think Kevin Durant is not a bonified superstar. You live on Mars.

  5. Luis says:

    I definitely agree with you Esc. As we all know, Lebron is the best basketball player in the world. So there is not a single player from the Spurs or any other team that will be able to stop that monster called Lebron James. That being said, I don’t blame Leonard for his poor performance against the best player in the planet. I think San Antonio is this year weaker than in the last two previous years. As a result, I personally believe Miami will be the champion again. It doesn’t mean that this series won’t be interesting and that the Spurs have no chance at all but they will have to come up with a better strategy to try to stop the rest of the team.

    • cp10 says:

      A monster until he gets injured that is, God forbid. Anyway I think San Antonio is better this year, they were 1st seed in 2011 when the 8th seed Grizzlies eliminated them, fast-forward to this year the team is scary despite the ages of Tim and Manu.

    • aLpha says:

      Please, entertain me more about this “there is not a single player from the Spurs or any other team that will be able to stop that monster called Lebron James.” lol

  6. Moe says:

    Lebron is really getting the “Superstar” treatment from the officials. Leonard can’t barely even touch him. Even when Lebron ignited the contact Leonard gets a foul. I see at least three of the six fouls was Superstar treatment. Come on Referees get those calls right.

    • Kunjaymaster says:

      Thats just desperate talk, i guess Parker got his treatment in Game 1 when Chalmers got 5 fouls in 3 quarters right?

      • Anon says:

        Have you watched the way Chalmers defends people? Parker is an extremely physical player so its a no brainer that he gets his fouls, but if you watch LeBron against Leonard there will obviously be fouls but half of them shouldnt be called. Especially if you compare them with the rest of the fouls that happen on the court.

    • No Regrets says:

      Well, yes, big discrepancy on the calls on the two teams. I doubt that will improve in Miami. But the Spurs can and should play better if they want to win this title. It’s a given now the last few years that you need to play a lot better than Miami to beat them, and SA knew this beforehand.

  7. Xolani says:

    Leonard needs some help to guard Lebron, but still u double team Lebron he just find an open team mate… I can’t wait fo Game3

  8. esc says:

    Keep in mind that Leonard is not dealing with Durant, (who he neutralized in the last series), he is deaing with a bonified “SUPERSTAR now. The sooner you realize that (as Leonard has) the sooner you guys will wake up from your dreams about the SLURS- Spurs beaing Miami. LeBron is going to give America another wave of sleepless summer nights until he retires…

    • Anon says:

      Really? bonified Superstar? You are saying that as if Durant isnt a Superstar

      • Jason says:

        Relax, he’s just still upset that bron bron didn’t win the MVP this year.

      • chris says:

        Judging by durants performance in the western conference finals, I did not see durant as a superstar or mvp but that’s just me. His stats just did not prove it. Yeah, he can score some crazy shots and every time he shoots he can make it…sort of. He is horrible at defense though.

      • en. says:

        All durant needs is put on some weight dats it then he can charge like lequeen