Kawhi Leonard Ready to Face LeBron James in the NBA Finals

by June 05, 2013

Needless to say, this will be Kawhi Leonard’s most difficult cover in his young NBA career. The second-year San Antonio Spurs forward will have the unenviable task of slowing down LeBron James in the Finals, and Leonard says he’s up for the challenge. Per the AP: “The second-year pro was simply relaxing at home Monday night, watching Miami rout the Indiana Pacers 99-76 to set up a showdown with San Antonio in the NBA Finals. Seeing how Paul George and Lance Stephenson defended James wasn’t as important to Leonard as the outcome. ‘I was just laying [down], seeing who we were going to play,’ he said. Leonard means no disrespect. He is just happy to know who the Spurs will play after a week’s wait following their sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference finals. The 6-foot-7 Leonard will draw the primary defensive assignment against James, the reigning NBA Finals MVP and two-time league MVP who is averaging 26.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.4 assists in the playoffs. James is also shooting 51 percent overall and 39 percent on 3-pointers. ‘It’s just a great challenge for me to try to help my team win by playing good defense on him,’ Leonard said. ‘I just accept the challenge and am ready to play.’ […] ‘He’s great on offense and defense,’ said Leonard, who has a 7-foot-3 wingspan. ‘He can pass, he can shoot the ball, gets offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds and he can guard the best player on the other team.’ While Leonard will be James’ primary defender, the Spurs will attempt to move him toward defensive help in the hope he gives up the ball. It’s a strategy that helped San Antonio limit opponents to 44.2 percent shooting, which was eighth in the league. But James isn’t the only player the Spurs know they will need a group mentality to defend, starting with All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.”