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Hobbled by a 0-2 deficit, Spurs in dire need of Leonard but `The Claw’’ remains in doubtful status

Kawhi Leonard

Down 0-2 in the West Finals, San Antonio have the chance to stay alive against Golden State when the series goes to the AT&T Center for Games 3 and 4.

Question is, can the Spurs rebound without their main man Kawhi Leonard?

Perhaps, the answer will be known at game time on Sunday especially so when Leonard (who knows?) shows up to see action.

That would be a welcome relief for the Spurs faithful.

As we all know by now, Leonard sprained his left ankle on two separate occasions in Game 1 at the Oracle Arena when SAS appeared to be on the way to a massive win.

First, he landed on the foot of teammate David Lee who was sitting on the San Antonio bench, and then Warriors center Zaza Pachulia early in the third quarter.

But when he left the game, the complexion of the game changed abruptly.

Accusing fingers as to why his sprain aggravated all pointed towards Pachulia for his alleged “dirty’’ play on Leonard. But that’s another story.

The Warriors pounced on Kawhi’s absence as the Spurs crumbled in disarray and went on to steal a hard-earned 113-111 win.

Game 2 came with the Spurs metaphorically disabled sans Leonard. The Warriors easily took it via a 136-100 annihilation with Stephen Curry leading the hosts with 29 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

At this juncture in the playoffs, the Spurs are a wounded team, again figuratively speaking, but at home, they need to be energized by the crowd.

Moreover, they need to play with a big heart even if Leonard is still absent. There’s no harm in trying, as they say, and against the mighty Warriors, that could be of great help now that they are in familiar territory.

And if a healthy Leonard plays on Sunday, the prospect will be bright for them to inch 1-2 against the Warriors. And probably level the series 2-2 after Game 4. Just like in any sport, anything can happen.

Other than Leonard, teammates like LaMarcus Aldridge, Pao Gasol, Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills, David Lee and Jonathan Simmons must unleash more than heads-up games to neutralize the Warriors.

Kyle Anderson, rookie point guard Dejounte Murray, Dewayne Dedmon and Davis Bertans should also be ready to be called upon and deliver for the Spurs.

In the guessing game whether the two-time Defensive Player of the Year will see action in Game 3, the only person with inside track on the condition of The Claw – Spurs coach Gregg Popovich no less – should give the clear answer.

But then again, Popovich is Popovich.

When pressed for an update on Leonard, he said: “I have no idea. Just depends on how the ankle heals.’’

Then it was followed by another rather vague retort: “I’d probably list him as questionable. I don’t think we’re going to know until Friday and Saturday, probably.’’

On the bright side though, there was a hint that came from him that Leonard is somehow doing fine.

Before Game 2, Popovich said Leonard was in the hotel and “ordering dinner.’’

Another tell-tale sign that Kawhi is a-okay is when the team arrived in San Antonio after Game 2, he was seen walking down the stairs from the airplane as if he had not rolled an ankle.
So Spurs fans, think positive!