Updated: Jun 2, 2020
Could it be? Is Kawhi the answer? Will Canada see something it hasn’t in, well, ever? Is it our year?
Although Leonard only had 2 more points than he had field goal attempts, he still put up 41 points and the first ever Game 7 buzzer-beater.
At times it felt like the Raptors were up against two teams, the Sixers and the refs. But that’s basketball, I guess. Sometimes I feel like NBA refs have a quota of how many whistles they have to blow. Nevertheless, Toronto persevered and as Bill Belichick would put it “We’re onto Milwaukee”.
This series for Kawhi was Jordan-esque, yes, I said it. This seven-game stretch by Kawhi was some Jordan level shit, there I said it again. The only other players who have scored more points in a series were Air Jordan himself and Kareem, not a bad threesome (golf analogy, get your head out of the gutter).
I can sit here and praise Leonard all day, but let’s talk about the other guys who helped Kawhi out, when at one point he was only shooting 10-of-30.
Serge Ibaka came out and balled exactly how Ujiri wanted him to when he brought him over from Orlando. Serge has faced some scrutiny with his below-average to average at best play since arriving in Toronto. However, he was the unexpected Raptor who rode shotgun with Kawhi in Game 7, shooting 60% with 17 points and 3 clutch 3-pointers.
Speaking of scrutiny, Kyle Lowry released his inner Philly grit and out muscled the Philadelphia 76ers in a big way. He only had 10 points but when Kawhi is putting up 41 points on 39 shot attempts, you find other ways to produce. One thing you are guaranteed to get from Lowry is persistence and toughness. He was clawing and fighting for loose balls all year and all playoffs, including this steal shown below in crunch time (at 9:27). Lowry left the game with a thumb sprain but that wasn’t going to hold him out of a game, let alone a win in a do or die situation.
Lowry gets way too much hate and understandably so with his low post-season numbers. But who do you think their leader is? Kawhi barely puts together 3 words on a good day. Kyle Lowry is their leader and does all the dirty work on the court that doesn’t show on the stat-sheet. Next game watch him play and make things easier on his teammates. He fights where players on other teams just won’t.
So now it’s onto the next round but I’m looking past that, not to the Finals but to the summer. Has this run so far been enough to make Kawhi stay?
In case Raptors fans thought LeBron was out of our hair playing ball out West, you thought wrong. LeBron has reportedly met with Kawhi during the Sixers series in Philly and is doing everything he can to recruit 'The Claw'. He was even tweeting his praise for Kawhi’s Game 7 performance letting him know that he’s watching.
Dammit LeBron, leave Canada alone. You already had your time in “LeBronto”.
Only time will tell, but my gut feeling is that Kawhi has already made up his mind. I think his mind has actually been made for a while now. Trust me Kawhi, Toronto weather is nice in June.
Stay or leave, hopefully the job gets done this year with Toronto’s 2nd ever Conference Finals appearance, and 1st without LeBron in the way. Aside from that, Kawhi has already made a dent in Raptors history, that ridiculous game-winner is the best thing Toronto has seen since Bautista’s bat flip a few years back.
It’s our year, KaWHY NOT?
YouTube | House of Highlights | Kawhi Leonard CRAZY GAME-WINNER - Game 7 | Raptors vs 76ers | 2019 NBA Playoffs
YouTube | House of Highlights | Philadelphia 76ers vs Toronto Raptors - Full Game 7 Highlights | May 12, 2019 NBA Playoffs
The Score | Stats | Philadelphia at Toronto
The Score | A star among stars: Leonard gives Raptors something they've never had before | Joseph Casciario
LeBron Wire | LeBron reportedly visited Kawhi Leonard during Raptors-Sixers series | Erik Gundersen