Corporate Knowledge: Kawhi’s re-coming out party
Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports: “Leonard had been sluggish in Games 1 and 2 of these Finals, and Popovich pushed him to come out fiercely on Tuesday night. He had done it a year ago against Miami. They needed it again now. Within minutes, Leonard had made Game 3 his own. Within the night, the Spurs had a 2-1 series lead and regained home-court advantage. As it turns out, Leonard is the perfect Spur: relentlessly dedicated to his craft, and painfully private.”
Fred Silva, Pounding the Rock: “Gregg Popovich decided to make his first lineup change of the series tonight as he started Boris Diaw over Tiago Splitter. As we’ve stated over and over, the Spurs improve on offense with Boris but at the expense of their defense. I thought it was a great move because in enemy territory, I felt an early lead was vital. Playing in Miami is not easy and playing from behind in Miami tends to be a death sentence.”
J.A. Adande, ESPN: “If the Spurs were going to complete their redemption for last year’s NBA Finals, they had to perform a ritualistic cleansing here in American Airlines Arena, the scene of their biggest heartbreak. We don’t hear Leonard’s angst about his role in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, mostly because we rarely hear Leonard’s views on anything. Last week a reporter showed him a picture of Spurs players dressed in Halloween costumes and asked Leonard to pick his favorite outfit. Leonard asked the reporter which one he liked best, then agreed with it. That’s as close as I’ve heard Leonard come to sharing an opinion or emotion.”
Zach Lowe, Grantland: “You can’t really stop San Antonio over 48 minutes. It will create a certain number of open looks every game, and some nights it will make more of them than you’d expect. Your defense will slip up now and then under duress. No team is immune. But to beat the Spurs, you have to bring your A-game the rest of the time. You can’t help them by playing subpar defense and coughing up the ball.”
Dan McCarney, MySA: “Tim Duncan admitted that he didn’t see that kind of potential when the two first worked out during the lockout leading up to Leonard’s rookie season in 2010-11. But like virtually everyone else involved with the Spurs, Duncan has long since converted.”
Lee Jenkins, Sports Illustrated: “A national audience, which remembers the Spurs as those boring plodders who dumped the ball into Duncan a decade ago, may be surprised by this onslaught. But it was no fluke. The Spurs have evolved over the past five years into the most artistic and efficient offense in the NBA. They led the Western Conference in field-goal percentage this season and the league in three-point percentage. “There were no magic plays,” Ginobili said. “We just moved the ball and every shot went in. … It happens once in a while.” If anything even remotely like it happens two more times in the next eight days, the Spurs will take the title.”
Tom Ziller, SB Nation: “How about giving Kawhi himself the credit for being a determined defender, a fearless attacker, a whipsmart theft artist? It’s almost as if some believe Kawhi’s hands are sentient, that they run him and not vice versa. But the more troubling issue when it comes to talking about Kawhi is the outsized credit the Spurs organization gets for his quick development and massive impact.