Now, he’ll likely be called upon to resolve another issue as the Spurs look for another primary ballhandler after point guard Tony Parker went down with a ruptured left quadriceps tendon that will cause him to miss the rest of the postseason. Veteran guard Manu Ginobili, a longtime member of the Spurs’ brain trust, alluded to the likelihood of Leonard’s increased involvement in initiating San Antonio’s offense.
“We’re playing a different style of game now with Kawhi holding the ball a lot and running those high pick and rolls and creating for others,” Ginobili told the San Antonio Express-News. “Then we don’t need as much, as in the past, a point guard that creates for everybody and runs all those pick and rolls.”
Leonard has already shown he’s capable. In Game 2, he finished with 34 points on 13-for-16 shooting to lead all scorers. More importantly for the Spurs moving forward, he added a career-high eight assists.
And when Thomas did have the ball in his hands? Yikes. He attacked on straight-line drives and was met with little resistance on his way to the basket. Thomas benefited from the spacing once again with Avery Bradley, Smart, Rozier and Horford providing enough of a perimeter threat to keep the defense honest.
However, the pick-and-roll coverage by Markieff Morris in the first play below as well as the lack of any help defenders stepping into the lane made these buckets way too easy.
Maybe the most confusing non-adjustment for Scott Brooks’ team was leaving big men like Gortat and Morris on an island with Thomas. There was no way these possessions could possibly end well. Thomas, who scored in the 95.3 percentile at 1.12 points per possession on isolation plays during the regular season (via NBA.com stats), poured gasoline on these mismatches and sparked his lighter.