As impressive as the Golden State Warriors' comeback in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals was, the main takeaway from Sunday afternoon was Kawhi Leonard's importance to the San Antonio Spurs, as his departure with a left ankle injury hugely impacted the end result.
Leonard's ankle kept him on the sidelines late in Game 5 of the Spurs' second-round matchup with the Houston Rockets, and out of action completely for the series-clinching Game 6. The joint might as well have had a giant bull's eye on it, especially after he rolled it again Sunday when he stepped on a teammate's foot following a 3-pointer in the third quarter.
From that moment onward, the Spurs were a ship without a captain, falling apart at the seams while the Warriors made an 18-0 run to cut into the lead, and eventually took the 113-111 win.
After injury (7:54 of third quarter onward)
Leonard had 26 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and a steal before his injury, all in just 23 minutes. You can't simply replace his offense, let alone the stellar defense he provides against multiple positions.
With Gregg Popovich as coach, the Spurs had gone a perfect 316-0 when leading by as many as 25 points during both the playoffs and regular season. Sunday's heartbreaking defeat is now the lone blemish, although it may deserve an asterisk considering what happened to Leonard.