SAN ANTONIO – If there was a question as to where the two MVP candidates on the floor, Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James, stood in the rankings, Leonard answered a lot of voters questions by leading the Spurs to a resounding victory over the Cavs 103-74, to sweep the season series against the defending NBA champions.
Leonard finished with 25 points, his 100th consecutive double digit game. He simply out shined King James more so on the defensive end.
He picked off a James bounce pass, then used the claw to take it away from LeBron while he was trying to dribble past Leonard. He also blocked a James shot, all in the first half.
He also got some help on the defensive end from Danny Green, who spent time on Kyrie Irving and who also got a block on LeBron. Green finished with four blocks.
"It is easier to notice Kawhi because of what he does every game, but many of the games it's Danny the one guarding the best opponent," said Manu Ginobili. "He made some huge blocks and good defensive plays."
"We had a really good defensively, everything came from that," said Gregg Popovich.
The Spurs held James to 17 points and the team to just 74, a season low for a Spurs opponent.
There was a scary moment when David Lee and James were going after a rebound and Lee hit him the back with and inadvertent elbow.
LeBron fell to the floor at half court and was down for a few minutes. He was able to get back and walk to the bench under his own power.
That is how the Spurs dominated, making the champs powerless. They played one of their best first quarters against a quality team in some time.
Thanks to 39-year-old Manu Ginobili and seven straight points, the Spurs had a 28-18 lead after one.
By halftime the Spurs led by as many as 24 points. Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge combined for 27 in the first half and the Spurs were up 64-40.
Aldridge finished with 14 while Pau Gasol also finished with 14 off the bench. The Spurs worked the lead to 33.
"Today was probably our best game of the season, not sure if it was the best or not hard to tell," said Ginobili.
"It does serve as example of what could be, we just raised the bar, hopefully we keep going from here," Ginobili said.
The Cavaliers really hurt themselves from beyond the three point arc only going 4 of 26. They also committed 19 turnovers. The Spurs defense held them 37 percent shooting.
Even though they blew out the defending champs with what could be their best game of the year, they did not get to excited about it.
"This doesn't mean anything, it doesn't mean we are going to win a championship, even go to the Finals," said Leonard. "We did a good job tonight coming out early being aggressive keeping our foot on the pedal, hopefully we can keep this carrying over to the next game."
Of all the highlights, one that stood out was an alley-oop from Patty Mills to Ginobili, kind of surprised Manu, who went for the reverse.
"Very unexpected, the whole play, when he threw it I said I cant believe he did throw it and then, well it went in," said Ginobili.
The Spurs host Golden State Wednesday night.