HOUSTON — The Spurs will try to close out their Western Conference semifinals without their best player Kawhi Leonard.
“Kawhi’s out,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’d rather play.”
The All-Star forward and MVP candidate suffered a sprained left ankle in the third quarter of Game 5 on Tuesday night. He missed most of the final five minutes of regulation and did not play at all in the overtime.
Journeyman Jonathon Simmons will start in Leonard’s place. Simmons will be playing in front of his hometown fans in Houston and is coming off a solid job of defending Rockets top scorer James Harden in Leonard’s absence in the previous game.
Simmons dogged Harden with his defense, holding him scoreless in the overtime on 0-for-3 shooting with three turnovers.
“He’s a competitive guy and it’s a great challenge for him,” Popovich said. “He’s been a pretty much an unknown player for the most part and to have an opportunity to play against somebody like James (Harden) is a great opportunity to see what you can do against a great player. I think he’s done as good a job as anybody could.”