Can Leonard successfully manage to limit LBJ?
Game 1 of the NBA Finals tips off on Thursday night at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, and the San Antonio Spurs will be well aware of their opponent’s most potent threat.
LeBron James recorded his most impressive regular season to date this year, before continuing his great form into the playoffs as he led the Miami Heat to a third consecutive appearance in the NBA Finals.
Having dug his team out of a hole on numerous occasions, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich must formulate a strategy to limit James’ impact in the series, and that plan begins with Kawhi Leonard.
The 21-year-old has already stated that he has “accepted the challenge” and is ready for both the league MVP and Miami Heat, somewhat a reference to the fact that the Spurs haven’t played in almost 10 days after their Western Conference finals sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies.
While it easier said than done to control Miami, the fascinating video below demonstrates exactly what makes Leonard a fierce competitor and such an efficient individual on the defensive end.
The statistics show that the Spurs are top of the pile in terms of defensive numbers throughout the playoffs, but in relation to Leonard there is also the factor of inexperience as this will be his first NBA Finals.
James has further improved his game this season, and it will be up to Leonard to do the same over the course of this series in order to put San Antonio in a position to clinch their first championship since the 2006/07 season.
The youngster undoubtedly has the attributes and ability, but whether he can execute effectively will have a major bearing on the outcome of this series.