Kawhi Leonard‘s recent play is a major reason why the Spurs have become the league’s hottest team, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders reports. The reigning NBA Finals MVP is averaging 19.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.6 steals during the team’s current 11-game winning streak while shooting 56 percent from the field. Leonard is developing a reputation of stepping up his game late in the season and the playoffs, Kennedy continues. Leonard’s resurgence is a major reason why potential playoff opponents are fearful of drawing the Spurs, Kennedy adds. Leonard becomes a restricted free agent this summer, though he expects to remain with the Spurs for the long haul.
In other news around the Southwest Division:
- Mavs camp invitee Eric Griffin has signed to play in Puerto Rico for Leones de Ponce, TAB Deportes reports (Twitter link; hat tip to agent Brian J. Bass). The Jazz, Clippers, and Celtics were reportedly interested in signing Griffin last month while he was with the Mavs D-League affiliate, and he also reportedly met with the Clippers about a 10-day deal in February.
- Mavs coach Rick Carlisle and point guard Rajon Rondo have seemingly put their differences aside heading into the playoffs, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Rondo served a one-game, team-imposed suspension after a heated exchange with Carlisle over play-calling in late February. Carlisle said that he and Rondo, who becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, have worked out a compromise, Medina adds. “Rondo’s been a pro. I like Rondo a lot. I’m looking forward to the playoffs because of his experience,” Carlisle said to Medina. “These kinds of adjustments are great opportunities for growth both for him and for us.”
- The Grizzlies are approaching the postseason with consistent defensive intensity despite injuries to key players, Ron Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. Memphis has held its last three opponents to 39% despite playing the Clippers without starters Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Tony Allen.