KAWHI Leonard has been ruled out for the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals series against the Houston Rockets due to his ankle injury, the team announced just before the match on Thursday (Friday, Manila time).
Leonard, who suffered the injury in the third quarter of their overtime win in Game 5, wanted to play but Spurs coach Gregg Popovich would rather have his star get back to full health as San Antonio tries to close out the series in Houston.
The Spurs lead the series, 3-2.
“Kawhi’s out,” Popovich told reporters just before the game. “He’d rather play.”
Jonathon Simmons will take Leonard’s place in the starting lineup.
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year was a late-scratch and arrived in the Toyota Center for the Spurs shootaround walking slowly but without a noticeable limp, according to ESPN’s Michael Wright.
Leonard is averaging 27.8 points in the playoffs. The Spurs hope for his injury to fully heal in time for the Western Conference finals if they win, or a potential Game 7 with a loss against the Rockets, who have a 17-5 record when facing elimination in the last 25 postseasons.