Golden State immediately went on an 18-0 run to get back into it as soon as Leonard went to the locker room, and made enough plays down the stretch to come away with a 113-111 win to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Here are three things you might have missed as the Warriors came back from a 25-point deficit to steal the Game 1 win.
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The Spurs have a huge advantage at the head coaching position
Steve Kerr was back in the building for the Warriors on Sunday, but as long as Mike Brown is the one making the in-game calls on the sidelines, the Spurs are going to have an enormous advantage where the two head coaches are concerned.
Gregg Popovich used a masterful game plan to stun the Warriors in the first half, slowing the pace to keep Golden State from getting out in transition, and staying out on the shooters to force them into taking more-difficult-than-usual shots. The Warriors finished the first quarter with as many field goals as turnovers (6), and missed all four of their three-point attempts while shooting 28.6 percent from the field in the game's first 12 minutes.
Popovich also made sure to engage LaMarcus Aldridge from the jump by getting him plenty of offensive touches. More on him later, but the Spurs know they can't afford to have him disappear for multiple games in this series the way he did against the Rockets, and he had 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting as San Antonio went up by 14 points at the end of the first quarter.
One other note on the coaching matchup, and that was Mike Brown's wacky in-game lineups. Andre Iguodala had averaged 28.4 minutes per game in the postseason coming into this one, yet he played just 10:12 in the first half, and was a DNP-CD for the game's final 24 minutes.
Brown said afterward that he thought Iguodala looked hobbled in the first half, so he went in another direction. But Iguodala was clearly unhappy with sitting out as long as he did, and could be seen sitting and sulking on the bench while the rest of the reserves were standing and cheering as the Warriors were making their comeback.
Brown also played Zaza Pachulia the entire third quarter, which is a ton for someone who has averaged only 14.1 minutes per game in total through the first eight games of the postseason. And, Shaun Livingston played the entire fourth period after averaging just 15.8 minutes in the playoffs thus far.
If Kawhi Leonard can return, and if Kerr cannot, the Spurs are going to make the rest of these games far closer than anyone previously expected.
Klay Thompson was brutal
The way the game unfolded -- with the Spurs taking a huge lead before their star player left with an injury, and then seeing the Warriors storm all the way back behind the brilliance of Curry and Durant -- it's easy to forget just how dismal Klay Thompson was in this one.
He finished with just six points on 2-of-11 shooting and five fouls in more than 38 minutes of action, and (speaking of Brown's lineup decisions) played all 12 minutes in the fourth, going 0-of-3 from the field with two turnovers.
Durant and Curry combining for 74 points erases a lot of mistakes, but Golden State will need a lot more out of Thompson if the team is going to reach its full potential.
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LaMarcus Aldridge is a one-dimensional player in today's NBA
A quick look at the box score will show what appears to be a pretty good Game 1 outing for LaMarcus Aldridge: a team-high 28 points, to go along with eight rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot. But a deeper dive shows he went just 10-of-24 from the field while shooting 2-of-9 in the fourth. He also turned the ball over six times, and was essentially useless defensively in trying to slow Kevin Durant.
San Antonio had no choice but to roll with Aldridge for 40-plus minutes once Leonard left due to injury, but it's clear that the five-time All-Star is no longer capable of carrying a team on both ends of the floor in today's NBA, one that features more versatile bigs (like Durant) and teams (like the Warriors) that don't hesitate at all to trot out their small-ball lineups.