Who would have guessed that Zaza Pachulia would become the star of game 1 between the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs? The memes leave no room for doubt: His intentional injuring of Kawhi Leonard was the biggest moment of the Western Conference Finals opener.
Anyone who claims Pachulia, with a long history of dirty plays and attempts to injure players in various ways, including Leonard himself last season, didn’t put his feet under a shooting Leonard on purpose is either blind or simply lying. Pachulia knew exactly what he was doing when he placed his foot where he did, hoping the already injured Leonard would roll his ankle further and be out of the game.
And why not? The Warriors looked clueless against a finely honed Spurs team for two and a half quarters, playing close to perfect defense and slicing through the stunned Warriors defenders like butter. Leonard, my choice for MVP this season (he probably won’t win) was with 26 points in less than 30 minutes. He was dominating the game on both ends like it ain’t not thang. Injuring him saved the Warriors, although some would prefer to over-analyze Stephen Curry hitting open 3’s as the reason the Warriors managed to come back.
This isn’t just a game 1 thing. With Leonard out for game 2, this is a dirty play, cheating basically, that can win the series for the Warriors before it hardly started. No wonder Gregg Popovich is fuming.