Non-final playoff series are nail-biting thrillers, especially when they consist of some great head-to-head matchups. Generally, No1 and No8 matchups enjoy little popularity unless it’s your favorite team playing on the court. Things really get interesting when the conference reaches the semi-final or final matchup. Things start to heat up, both in competition and stakes. Read on to reminisce more from one such series from Kawhi Leonard-led Toronto Raptors and Joel and Jimmy Butler-led Philadelphia 76ers in 2019 NBA Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
This series had it all- everything that a normal Basketball fan thrives for, and much more. So, let’s jump straight into this series, with no further spoilers.
Kawhi Leonard heroics vs Philadelphia 76ers, Game 1(108-95)
The game was truly the start this epic series thoroughly deserved. Kawhi Leonard, who thrives for occasions like these, lived up to his name and delivered a career-high playoff point total against 76ers. The 1 time NBA champion scored a whopping 45 points and 11 rebounds to hand victory to the Raptors. His teammate, Pascal Siakam, added 29 points to Raptors total. Clearly, 76ers defense had no clue on how to move forward in that match.
The return of Jimmy Butler vs Raptors, Game 2(94-89)
“Cometh the hour, cometh the man.” 76ers’ achieved their first victory in Canada since November 2012, all thanks to the heroics of Jimmy Butler. Butler added 30 points and 11 rebounds, while Ennis scored 13 for his team. Raptors tried to put on a late surge in the 4th quarter, but Philly defense and offense were able to withhold those intense moments. Series now level at 1-1.
76ers destroys Raptors, Game 3(116-95)
76ers annihilated Toronto in this match. Leading that massacre was Joel Embiid, who scored 33 points on that night. Toronto defense looked defenseless during the whole match as Embiid and Co. slammed their way to victory. 76ers now lead 2-1 in the series.
The Revenge of Kawhi Leonard, Game 4(96-101)
Kawhi again came clutch for Canadian capital as he scored 39 points and 14 rebounds to edge out the 76ers in the match. Leonard also scored a very important 3 pointer with 1 minute left on the clock. Also, Gasol scored 16, and Lowry added 14 points for Raptors in the match. Series now level at 2-2.
An unlikely hero for Raptors, Game 5(89-125)
The Raptors found a daredevil in Pascal who scored game-high 25 points, while Leonard added 21 points and game-high 13 rebounds. Toronto Raptors now lead series 3-2. The next game could be last for Sixers.
Philly forces Raptors for the decider, Game 6(112-101)
The 76ers forced a decider against Raptors for Eastern Conference Finals place against Bucks. Jimmy Butler came big for Phillys’ side, as he scored 25 points in the game. Series now level at 3-3. Game 7, here we come.
‘The shot’ from Kawhi Leonard: Game 7
The game is an instant classic. Nothing could ever describe how Leonard was able to hit that bouncer on the Buzzer over Joel. The ball literally bounced 4 times before going in, giving the Raptors 92-90 win over the 76ers. The moment was magical in every sense. For players and fans around the world, those 6 seconds were probably the longest in NBA history. Kawhi Leonard’s shot was the first winning buzzer-beater in a Game 7 in NBA history.
After the match, Leonard said, “It was great. That’s something I never experienced before, Game 7, a game-winning shot. It was a blessing to be able to get to that point and make that shot and feel that moment.”
Below is the full 4th quarter, watch out for the intensity in those last moments from both teams, and the ensuing drama in the end.
Kawhi Leonard came big and clutch for Toronto during this whole series. He averaged 34.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.3 steals per match. This series was just a preview of what was coming later in playoffs as Leonard could win his 2nd ring and 1st for Toronto Raptors against Golden State Warriors. The NBA championship was also the first in the franchise history of Toronto. Kawhi was looking to repeat this same success with his new teammates at LA Clippers this season, until coronavirus pandemic put a stop to the season.