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LaMarcus Aldridge says system helped Spurs get where they are without Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge

Despite a previous scare in the last stretch of the season, the San Antonio Spurs have managed to make the playoffs for a 21st straight time, and most-admirably done so without their star forward Kawhi Leonard.

Led by LaMarcus Aldridge for the vast majority of 2017-18, the team finished off the season winning 10 of their last 15 games, aided by a different mentality despite the series of storylines involving Leonard’s impending recovery from a quad injury.

“Just having the next-man-up kind of mentality, having the system where you can plug in guys and they can understand, or they can help the team in the ways they’re going to be good out there and not giving in,” said Aldridge, according to NBA.com’s David Aldridge. “It would have been easy to say we’ve had all this adversity this year and it’s not our year, but we have a bunch of guys that want to still be here. And we pushed through and guys got better, and the younger guys got some experience, and they’ve gotten better. It’s the whole team coming together.”

The Spurs faced a tough Game 1 on Saturday afternoon, running into a stifling Golden State Warriors defense that breezed to a 21-point win from end to end.

But now that the Spurs have announced Leonard will be out for the remainder of the postseason, no distraction remains in the way of Aldridge or any of his teammates, leaving the series at hand as the lone area of focus moving forward.