Toronto Raptors beat Sixers to progress to Eastern Finals
Kawhi Leonard could only anxiously watch on, as his buzzer shot from the corner bounced off the rim an agonizing once, twice, three times, then four before finally dropping through the hoop to send the capacity crowd at the Scotiabank into a frenzy.
Leonard, who was acquired last summer for moments exactly like this. He scored at the buzzer high over the outstretched hand of Joel Embiid and from in front of Toronto’s bench, lifting the Raptors to a thrilling 92-90 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. The victory put the Raptors into the Eastern Conference Finals for just the second time in franchise history.
“It was great,” Leonard said. “That’s something I’ve never experienced before, Game 7, game-winning shot. It was a blessing to be able to get to that point and make that shot and feel that moment. It’s something I can look back on in my career.”
Leonard had never experienced anything like it because it has never happened before. According to the NBA’s official Twitter account, it was the first buzzer-beater in a Game 7 in NBA history.
Meanwhile, the normally stoic Leonard finished with 41 points. He looked to the Scotiabank Arena rafters and let out a roar as the shot fell through the hoop. Before he was swarmed by his teammates in joyous celebrations.
“I’m a guy that acts like I’ve been there before. So probably the last time you’ve seen me scream was when we won,” Leonard said, as he was referring to San Antonio winning the 2014 Finals. Furthermore, Leonard was named MVP.
“So whenever it’s like a moment where I haven’t really experienced, I’ll probably try to give some emotion, show some emotion, and let it just come out. Tonight was one of those nights.”
Indeed it was. Their reward for their efforts will be a matchup against the Bucks; who had beaten Boston over five games. The first game of the series will come in Milwaukee on Wednesday evening.
Meanwhile, Serge Ibaka had one of the best post-season performances of his career. He finished with 17 points and eight rebounds. While Pascal Siakam finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Also, Kyle Lowry recorded ten points despite playing most of the night with a taped left thumb he sprained early in the second quarter. Something that he spoke about after the win.
“I fell, it popped out, I popped it back in,” Lowry said. “It kind of was loose, I was just trying to figure out how to pass the ball, I couldn’t really pass the ball and grip the ball, but that doesn’t matter, I’m fine, I played, we won the game, we’ll get some rest and try to heal it up as fast as possible.”
Meanwhile, Marc Gasol recorded 11 rebounds to go with his seven points.
Embiid led his team with 21 points. However, he broke into tears just after Leonard connected with the match-defining moment. Gasol consoled the Sixers star. Meanwhile, all five Philadelphia starters finished in double digits. JJ Redick recorded 17 points and Jimmy Butler added 16.