SAN ANTONIO — Hours away from drawing the toughest defensive assignment of his two-year career with the San Antonio Spurs, Kawhi Leonard wasn't feverishly taking mental notes of how to guard LeBron James.
The second-year pro was simply relaxing at home Monday night, watching Miami rout the Indiana Pacers 99-76 to set up a showdown with San Antonio in the NBA Finals. Seeing how Paul George and Lance Stephenson defended James wasn't as important to Leonard as the outcome.
"I was just laying [down], seeing who we were going to play," he said.
Leonard means no disrespect. He is just happy to know who the Spurs will play after a week's wait following their sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference finals. The 6-foot-7 Leonard will draw the primary defensive assignment against James, the reigning NBA Finals MVP and two-time league MVP who is averaging 26.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.4 assists in the playoffs.
James is also shooting 51 percent overall and 39 percent on 3-pointers.
"It's just a great challenge for me to try to help my team win by playing good defense on him," Leonard said. "I just accept the challenge and am ready to play."
Facing a player on a hot streak isn't new to San Antonio this postseason following showdowns with the Warriors' Stephen Curry and Memphis' Zach Randolph.
In some respect, the Spurs are facing a hybrid of Curry and Randolph in the 6-foot-8, 250-pound James.
"He's great on offense and defense," said Leonard, who has a 7-3 wingspan. "He can pass, he can shoot the ball, gets offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds and he can guard the best player on the other team."