Jun 6, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) drives against San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the third quarter of game one of the 2013 NBA Finals at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Before game one even came to light last-night, everyone was breaking down how LeBron James was going to be a match-up nightmare for the San Antonio Spurs. Kawhi Leonard was ready for the challenge, he stepped up, and damn if he did not play the best defense anyone could against the player that James has become.
Though LeBron notched a triple-double in the Heat’s game one loss, Leonard’s aggressiveness and work to stay in front of James and make him give the ball up to others to score was key in the Spurs victory. LeBron down the stretch did try to put the game in his hands. One play that stuck out to me was when he drove down the lane and Leonard and company closed it down making LeBron pass it out to a wide-open Bosh for an attempted three, it hit front rim.
Now, I am not saying that Leonard will have this success on James the whole series, but one thing is certain and James can see, Leonard will do what he can to get the ball out of James’ hand. There is other players in the league that would be afraid of this challenge to defend the reigning MVP. Leonard stated that he lives for this, this is the reason why he loves being in the NBA to play against the best.
He got his chance and surely did a great job in game one. Leonard finished the game with 10 points and 10 rebounds.