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Kawhi Leonard will play in Game 1 against the Warriors

Leonard returns from an ankle injury he suffered in Game 5 against Houston.

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters Kawhi Leonard will play in Game 1 of the San Antonio Spurs Western Conference Finals matchup against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, according to the San Antonio Express-News’ Melissa Rohlin. Popovich said his All-Star was “absolutely” a full participant in Sunday’s practice

Leonard rolled his ankle in Game 5 of San Antonio’s second-round series against the Houston Rockets. He missed overtime and the final minutes of regulation before sitting out Game 6 due to his ankle injury. The Spurs won both Games to advance to the conference finals.

Leonard’s return is a sigh of relief for a Spurs team that nearly lost its MVP candidate for the playoffs. San Antonio had already watched Tony Parker fall for the season after a ruptured right quadriceps tendon in Game 2. Losing Leonard would have all-but ensured defeat against a Warriors team with the league’s best record.

Instead, the Spurs will see Leonard, who has been on a postseason rampage, return to the starting lineup. The All-Star starter has played lights-out in the playoffs, averaging 27.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists through 11 playoff games, shooting better than 52 percent from the field, 47 percent from three and 92 percent from the foul line.

San Antonio will need that and more out of its all-world player if it hopes to contend with a Warriors team heavily favored to return to the NBA Finals for the third straight season.

Popovich revealed some his strategy ahead of Game 1.