Home / Sports / NBA Playoffs: Kawhi Leonard puts Raptors on the back in double overtime wins to keep the East finals away

NBA Playoffs: Kawhi Leonard puts Raptors on the back in double overtime wins to keep the East finals away



TORONTO – With 3:21 remaining in the second overtime of match 3 in the Eastern Conference finals, it felt like a whole franchise's hopes and dreams were in balance. The Scotiabank Arena went as nuts as it had too much of the last three hours, but you could feel a palpable fear hanging in the air after almost a quarter of a century of almost-theres and non-quites. So much history said this moment would be the moment things would hurt the Toronto Raptors. When these hopes are highest, it is always when they stay in the most painful ways.

With Raptors upstairs – with Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell and Giannis Antetokounmpo who have already devastated ̵

1; Marc Gasol switched to Milwaukee Buck's spot guard Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe backed up to the 3-point arc and then trembled to the left. He dribbled into the track, spun around ruthlessly … and lost the ball. It bounced off Danny Green's hands, and straight into Kawhi Leonard's mighty hands. Kawhi has been all for Raptors this postseason. In the semifinal series against Sixers, Kawhi had scored the most points in a seven-game series since Michael Jordan in 1993, and the Raptors needed every bit of it. Here he was again, the man in the middle of one of the greatest moments in franchise history.

Kawhi sprinted past the center college. Only one backpedaling Nikola Mirotic stood between Kawhi and the rim. Kawhi lifted a foot inside the free kick and swapped the ball from the right hand to the left in the middle. Mirotic thought of competing, and then decided against it. Flying through the air, Kawhi pounded the ball with his left hand, and the Toronto audience – who had been alternating between delirium and fatalism in the last hour – lost all mind.

He went up and let his leg lie. He played a lot for the game, but you didn't hear a peek from Kawhi. He only knew he needed to put his team – his franchise – on his back, as he did in Raptor's 118-112 double-overtime victory.

"It's amazing what he has done for us all year, especially in the late season," said Raptor's guard Norman Powell. "He's a guy who he wants to do is win. He doesn't care about awards, the points, as long as he is out and helps his team win. It's good for us. We feel good. He's a good one For us to go out and play 52 minutes and lead the team with their voice in the timeout, tell us to stay calm, stay in the moment, do not become anxious when they go on a run, it is fantastic to have a guy like that on the team. "

Kawhi cannot do this on his own, even though it was acting through great stretches of Game 3, slowing down by triple layers and taking the toughest defenses he needed. Kawhi was a superhero on Sunday evening: A game height of 36 points in a game of 52 minutes – check out: a career -high 52 minutes – go to the line 13 times (and do 12 of them) while playing his typical elite defense.

Kawhi was Batman, but the Raptors can only beat Bucks when the rest of the team plays as his Robins. That was what the Raptors were on Sunday night, something we just saw in spurts during this after-season: A complete basketball team. Powell came off the bench for a crucial 19 points. Pascal Siakam played his best game for weeks, scored 25 points and got a huge block on Brook Lopez in overtime. Danny Green and Fred VanVleet could not buy a shot, but shooting shoots, and both were making engagement 3s in overtime.

The key factor from a Raptors team blown out in Game 2 and a team playing a consistent Game 3 was a rejuvenated Marc Gasol. Gasol blamed himself for the loss of Game 2. In Game 3, however, he was the opposite, playing aggressive basketball from the jump and not passing shot – as his two 3s showed in the first few minutes of the game. If Gasol put a bad tone in Game 2, he put a perfect tone in Game 3, ending with 16 points (on 4-of-8 3-point shooting), taking 12 rebounds and blocking five shots.

"Attacks are about creating space," said coach Nurse Nurse. "If there are some areas in the floor that are cramped, you have to move to the free areas. With Lopez in the color you have to move to the open space and take advantage of it. Our mentality was better tonight. Our feet were ready, our hands was ready, and our mentality was ready to pull the trigger. "

But in the end, of course it came down as the superstar was better: Giannis or Kawhi. By the time of Kawhi's runout dunk in the second overtime, Giannis had already fouled out. The raptors had played him physically all night – Bucks fans can say that Giannis got a very unfriendly whistle – and Giannis was held to only 12 points and seven assists. It was no surprise for his teammates, despite the fact that Kawhi was still able to get up close to the free kick and throw down the momentum of the momentum.

"That's what he does," Danny Green told CBS Sports after the game. "You get that ball in their area, he'll get it. Even if he wasn't 100 percent tonight, he still pushed through."

How the Raptors played the whole season: Having a chance to make the NBA final, and having a chance to convince Kawhi to stick to it. It was for occasions like this that Kawhi's cargo was successful throughout the season, as he played in only 60 regular season games. It was for this reason why the Raptors acted for Gasol at the trading deadline: To give Kawhi another veteran Robin at his side. That's why General Manager Masai Ujiri entered the final MVP in a franchise change trade.

"(Kawhi) defense was probably the biggest key to the game," says nurse. "Not only did he just play well, but he did some great gigs with a little steal and rip-aways and breakaways. Crime was hard to come by for both teams in a while. Whenever you can get a steal and breakout, it's a huge momentum play. "

" "You've heard his famous line as (Kawhi) said: That these first 82 games are just training. "

It is no longer training. It's the playoffs. And it has always been when Kawhi Leonard is most important.


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