The Warriors' Comeback Win Started Right After Zaza-Induced Kawhi Injury

Huh. I wonder what happened.

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May 14 2017, 10:38pm

Let's just say that I didn't watch the game (I did). You could tell me that the Warriors came back from a 25-point deficit with an 18-0 run in the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, and I'd say: cotdamn! That sounds like some incredible entertainment! But you would be leaving out a key detail: Kawhi Leonard's injury.

It's pretty easy to run your finger along the point differential graf, and mark the exact moment that Kawhi went out: right before that 18-0 run. And you'd feel that kind of sinking 'too bad/what if' kind of anger at that helpless luck-and-fate feeling that comes with these kinds of losses. But there's someone else involved besides fate in this situation. That man's name is Zaza Pachulia. And while you could argue that he didn't, things are looking pretty damning that he might indeed have done a dirty.

After the Spurs absolutely ran the Warriors ragged in the first half, Kawhi went up for a big, elevated three in the third quarter, and Warriors center Zaza Pachulia came shuffling into the space under Kawhi's feet. Everyone knows that Kawhi was mending an ankle injury. You knew. Zaza knew. But did Zaza do it on purpose? Let's just say that things wouldn't have seemed a little... funny if it weren't for Zaza's tiny little extra step after already finding his footing.

Again, it's hard to tell what Zaza's intentions were. If he was pulling off a dirty, then he did a pretty good acting job—he never looked down once. But if he wasn't, then his last extra shuffle step needs some explanation.

Yes, we could launch an armada of hypotheticals about what could have happened if fate—or Zaza—didn't have a hand in the Spurs roster. But here's what did happen:

Yup, Curry lit up 19 points in the third quarter and delivered a solid fourth quarter appearance that included this game-sealing jumper:

Now all we can do is pray to the ice gods to heal Kawhi's ankle (which doesn't have an update yet). Oh, and toss out all those "what ifs." Because they'll only haunt you.

UPDATE

It looks like Zaza's Wikipedia page has already taken the hit.