Was Zaza Pachulia playing dirty when he caused Kawhi Leonard to injure his ankle Sunday afternoon? Gregg Popovich sure believes so.
The San Antonio Spurs coach tore into Pachulia during his meeting with reporters Monday, pointing out the Golden State Warriors big man’s history of borderline or questionable plays.
In a lengthy rant, Popovich called Pachulia’s latest transgression “a totally unnatural closeout that the league outlawed years ago.”
Pachulia slid his foot into Leonard’s landing zone as the Spurs star attempted a jump shot during the third quarter of Game 1 of the NBA’s Western Conference finals. Leonard, who injured the same ankle in San Antonio’s second-round series against the Houston Rockets and reaggravated it earlier in Sunday’s contest, left the game and did not return.
Golden State trailed by 21 points at the time but rallied to win 113-111. Popovich told reporters Leonard is unlikely to play in Game 2 on Tuesday night.
Popovich also said he didn’t care whether Pachulia intended to injure Leonard, only that he did.
“All I care about is what happened,” the coach said. “And the history there exacerbates the whole situation and makes me very, very angry.”
The Warriors. who are seeking their third consecutive NBA Finals appearance, have yet to lose in the 2017 playoffs, going a perfect 9-0 against the Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz and Spurs.
Thumbnail photo via Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports Images