With their best player away from the court, the Spurs lost 113-92 to the Warriors in Game 1 of the series opener Saturday in Oakland. Don't expect the forward to play again this season.
Leonard is expected to miss the remainder of the postseason, however far the Spurs go, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. He continues to rehab an injury to his right quadriceps.
While the Spurs are in Oakland battling the Warriors, Leonard is with his team of doctors rehabbing in New York. The 26-year-old has only played nine games this year.
The last two seasons, Leonard has finished in the top three of MVP voting. He finished third last season and second in 2016-16.
Last season, Leonard averaged a career-high 25.5 points per game, plus 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Leonard is also a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and won Finals MVP in 2014.
As the regular season concluded and the Warriors were heading into the playoffs, the hottest name and topic of discussion was Quinn Cook. He had played exceptionally well in the absence of the Warriors stars, serving primarily as Steph Curry’s replacement.
To many it was an obvious assumption that Cook would insert himself into the starting lineup as the point guard for the first round of the playoffs as well. However, when Andre Iguodala surprisingly got the nod over Cook, the conversation changed to the Warriors’ desire to start a defensive unit and how the coaches would incorporate Cook into the bench rotations. Lost in all of this conversation was a forgotten man: Shaun Livingston.
This is the fourth season that Livingston served as Curry’s primary backup, until Cook’s late season flurry. While the quiet and stoic Livingston hasn’t received much fanfare over the years, his consistent play has been a “stabilizing force” in the Warriors second unit, as Steve Kerr referred to following their Game 4 loss. But where Livingston has excelled most in his brief but accomplished Warriors career is in the playoffs when Curry has been out.
Including the six games Curry missed in the 2015-16 playoffs and the four games missed so far this postseason, Livingston has averaged 11.8 points per game on 53 percent shooting, while adding 3.9 assists and 2.8 rebounds over 25 minutes.
Livingston has scored in double digits in eight of the ten games, which in contrast, is the same number of games he scored in double figures over his last 71 regular season contests. As a member of the Warriors, Livingston has averaged 5.7 points over 18 minutes per game, on 52 percent shooting with 2.6 assists and 2.1 rebounds.
Look for Livingston to be a stabilizing force in the Warriors lineup on Tuesday night as the team tries to advance to the second round to face a Pelicans team that is deep with very capable guards. Even with Curry’s eventual return, the Warriors will need Livingston’s length and ball handling skills to disrupt the Pelicans’ small ball attack.
But before the Warriors are able to turn their focus to New Orleans, you can expect Livingston to be as assertive and aggressive as ever trying to close out the series.
In Game 4 vs the Spurs, the Warriors committed their seventh turnover with 7:31 remaining...
... in the first quarter.
After practice on Monday, Steve Kerr talked about the loss in San Antonio.
[PODCAST: Player-by-player breakdown of Game 4 loss at Spurs]
"Lack of focus to start the game was really the key," Kerr told reporters. "More than energy, it was a sense of purpose. And I take a lot of the blame for that. I should know better as a coach of a team that's been up 3-0 plenty times, you gotta know you're going into the lion's den...
"It just felt like kind of a regular-season approach on a back-to-back instead of a closeout playoff game. I thought our guys played hard for the most part during the game, but not in a smart fashion. I don't think we played mindfully and that's gotta change."
Despite trailing by as many as 17 points late in the first half, the Warriors battled back.
It was a two-point game with a little less than six minutes remaining, but the Spurs simply made more plays down the stretch.
As for the first few minutes of the game:
"I could tell right away -- looking back at the tape I should have taken a timeoout three minutes into the game and broken a clipboard (laughter)" Kerr said ."More than that I should have had them prepared pregame for what was coming and I didn't feel like I did a good job at that."
Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller