Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Facing the scorching Golden State Warriors in the second round, Kawhi Leonard may have been San Antonio's most important player.
After allowing a 34-point, 14-rebound explosion from Klay Thompson in Game 2, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich decided if his team was going to lose the series, Thompson definitely wouldn't be the player taking them down.
Leonard was placed on Thompson for the rest of the series—while also spending time on Stephen Curry and Harrison Barnes—and he completely shut him down. In Game 3, Thompson scored 17 points but needed 20 shots to get there.
In Game 5, Leonard didn't allow Thompson to even attempt a three-pointer let alone make one, holding him to four points. It was a four-game stretch where Leonard had Thompson's number, and he completely removed him from the series: Thompson didn't attempt a free throw after Game 1.
With the ball, Leonard has sported an 18.4 PER—up two points from his regular-season output—and averaged 13.7 points and 8.4 rebounds. His ability to stay engaged without having his number called is truly impressive, especially when you realize he's only 21 years old.