In Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals, the San Antonio Spurs held a 23 point lead on the Golden State Warriors in the third quarter. Everything looked as though the Spurs were going up 1-0 in the series. That was until Zaza Pachulia made one of the dirtiest plays in recent NBA history, landing directly under Kawhi Leonard after “contesting” a shot. We all know what happened next…… the Warriors went on to win the series, and eventually another NBA championship.
2017 Western Conference Finals Game 1
As soon as the then Spurs superstar, Kawhi Leonard, left the game due to injury, the Warriors went on an 18-0 run. Shortly after that run, the Warriors took the lead, and eventually went on to win Game 1 113-111.
The moment Kawhi Leonard left that series, was the moment the Warriors won it. As the Warriors are now facing a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals to another Kawhi Leonard team, there remains hope. Unfortunately, the hope they have to win another championship this season would come with a lack of sportsmanship, professionalism, and any sort of human decency.
What is that hope? “Accidentally” hurting Kawhi Leonard.
It pains me to say this, but if the Warriors want to win another championship, taking Kawhi Leonard out of the series may be their only shot. Being down 3-1, there has to be some sort of memory coming back to the Warriors of the last time they took down a Kawhi led team who was badly beating them. With Kevin Durant hurt, Klay Thompson not at full strength, and a team that’s just not performing as they’re expected to, hurting Kawhi Leonard may be their only hope.
How do they make it look like an accident?
How could the Warriors make hurting Kawhi Leonard look like an accident? With Durant already out and Thompson still not 100%, we know they can’t afford to lose another key player. If they’re going to do this, they won’t be doing it with a player like Steph Curry of Draymond Green.
If the Warriors did go this direction, they’ll use a player they don’t care about, just like they did when Zaza took down Kawhi in 2017. It could be a player like Andrew Bogut or Jonas Jerebko, to name a couple guys.
Why this would work
If Kawhi Leonard just happened to get hurt and leave the game, or series, who’s going to elevate the Raptors over the Warriors? Kyle Lowry is a good player. Pascal Siakam is a good player. Marc Gasol is a good player. Toronto has a lot of good players, but they don’t have another player on the same level as Kawhi Leonard.
As we’ve seen in every game so far this series, Kawhi Leonard can make a huge impact for the Raptors even if he’s not putting up 30+ points. With Kawhi in the game, it forces the Warriors to focus on him. That automatically opens things up for guys like Lowry, Siakam and Gasol.
Take out their superstar, win the series.
Just look at what happened in 2017. Kawhi leaves the series, leaving LaMarcus Aldridge as their main guy. Aldridge is a good player, but he was nowhere near good enough to take down the Warriors.
Should they do this?
The answer to this question is a hard no. If the Warriors were to do this, it would be the most disgraceful thing I’ve ever seen in sports. It’s just wrong to do something like this. I feel bad just thinking about the possibility of this even happening!
If the Warriors want to play the game the right way, they can’t do this. I’m not saying I think they will do this, but I’m also putting everyone on alert. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised if a Warriors player “accidentally” hurts Kawhi Leonard in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
I still have no doubt that the Spurs would have won the 2017 Western Conference Finals had Kawhi played that entire series. If Kawhi plays the rest of the NBA Finals this year, I have no doubt the Raptors will be the NBA champs. However, if Kawhi goes down, the fate of his team will be the same as the Spurs team who made the 2017 WCFs.