The Western Conference Finals did not end the way most NBA fans thought it would have. The NBA expected Kevin Durant and Steph Curry to light up the floor like they have all season, but many did not believe the series would end in a sweep. The San Antonio Spurs seemed to be the last hope for The Western Conference as many teams did not want to the Golden State Warriors to achieve a flawless road to the NBA finals. Some people believe that the Warriors were able to dismantle the Spurs due to the fact that Kawhi Leonard was unable to play. Kawhi has been known throughout the league for his ability to perform in big time moments.

Does the fact that Kawhi could not help his team when they needed him the most alter his reputation as one of the most clutch players in the NBA?

Ice man watches his team melt

It was apparent during the first matchup of the Western Conference finals that the Spurs would not survive without their best player Kawhi Leonard. From the tip off, it seemed as though Kawhi had to drag his team along as he scored 26 points before he endured his injury to his left ankle in the third quarter of play. The only other player on the San Antonio Spurs roster that was able to make a gracious contribution was LaMarcus Aldridge, who also struggled during the remainder of the series. The Spurs led the Warriors 62-42 at halftime and things started to unravel.

After Kawhi reinjured his left ankle, the Warriors were able to go on an 18-0 run that granted them an opportunity to make the game one matchup more competitive. It had seemed as though the Spurs ability to score had fizzled away as the Warriors outscored the San Antonio squad 71-49 in the second half.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Spurs were in disbelief. They blew a 25 point lead and left the hardwood with a game one loss.

Game two showed more evidence that the Spurs needed Kawhi Leonard on the court. The Spurs fell again to Golden State by a huge margin of 36 points. Jonathan Simmons acted as the high man for the Spurs as he was able to round up 22 points in the Spurs losing effort.

It was clear that the team needed Leonard, and they needed him badly. The Spurs do not have a defender or scorer active on their roster that can produce at the same level as Kawhi on their best night. Without the ability to put playoff talent on the floor the Spurs crumbled under the weight that was brought with game 2.

Kawhi marked as a 'no show'

As the NBA waited for Kawhi to perform his rendition of the great Michael Jordan's "flu game" performance, the Spurs' chances of winning the Western Conference finals began to become scarce. When many NBA analyst and spectators believed that Kawhi needed to be on the floor in game 3, he remained on the bench. It was clear that if the Warriors won game 3, the Spurs' chances on advancing to the big dance would become slim to none.

It was a huge surprise that Kawhi was not on the floor as the Warriors were able to snatch a game 3 and 4 victory which enabled the Golden Boys of Golden State to remain undefeated in post season play. To chose to keep your best player on the sidelines as your team's playoff hopes slip down the drain is a call that head coach Greg Popovich knew he would be questioned about. When the time came for Kawhi to make an elite decision he ultimately made the decision to end his teams playoff run. Hopefully his left ankle injury isn't as bad it seemed and he is able to return to the hardwood for a better 2018 season.

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