Leonard leads Raptors to double overtime win
It was a must-win game for the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night, and win they did. In a night where Raptors fans were made to pick between the all-important Game Three of the playoff conference final or the finale of Game of Thrones; it was the Raptors that won the battle. But they are still a long way away from winning the war.
Kawhi Leonard scored 36 points. Including eight in the second period of overtime, as the Toronto Raptors beat Milwaukee 118-112 on Sunday night to cut the Bucks’ lead in the series to 2-1 in the Eastern Conference finals.
Meanwhile, Pascal Siakam had 25 points and 11 rebounds. Norman Powell scored 19 points before fouling out, and Marc Gasol had 16 points and 12 rebounds. The Raptors will try to draw even when they host Game Four on Tuesday evening.
Also, Giannis Antetokounmpo had 12 points and 23 rebounds before fouling out with 4:24 to go in the second overtime. Antetokounmpo shot five for 16.
The Raptors won despite guards Kyle Lowry and Powell both fouling out in the fourth quarter. Siakam also missed a pair of free throws with 7.4 seconds left in regulation that could have iced the game for the home side. However, Siakam redeemed himself by blocking a potential tying shot by Brook Lopez with 43 seconds remaining in the second overtime. This led to a layup for Leonard, which put the Raptors up 114-110 with just over 30 seconds remaining.
Leonard made 11 of his 25 shots. Meanwhile, he went 12 for 13 at the free throw line. He also had nine rebounds and added five assists despite appearing to be bothered by some leg pain throughout the game. “I’m feeling all right. This is playoff basketball,” Leonard said. “Everybody’s hurting, so I’ve just got to keep fighting.”
Furthermore, after suggesting on Saturday that he might opt to change his lineup for Game Three. Raptors coach Nick Nurse stuck with his regular starters for the game. However, he did give Powell 30 minutes; the most he has played in any game during this post-season.
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse praised Kawhi Leonard’s defense on Milwaukee Bucks star player Giannis Antetokounmpo following the win. Furthermore, he noted that it was the most significant factor in their victory.
Speaking to NBA TV, Nurse was asked about Leonard’s defense on Antetokounmpo; this year’s leading MVP candidate. Nurse believes that the Raptors forward’s protection was crucial and pointed out the critical plays he made later during the game.
He said: “His defense was probably the greatest key in the game. Not only did he play just good, but he made some huge plays with some steals and rip aways and breakaways.”
Because of this, the Greek Freak had a rough scoring night with just 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting from the field as well as eight turnovers. Meanwhile, he had 23 rebounds and seven assists. Therefore, it’s safe to say that Leonard, as well as his teammates, were successful in containing him.
Leonard is a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and is one of the very few players in the NBA who’s a threat at both ends of the floor. In their Game Three victory, he certainly proved that he’s one of the NBA’s best. After all, not all players can be useful on both offense and defense. Leonard can do both. And he can do it in the playoffs — where the pressure is at its highest.
The series continues in Toronto on Tuesday, before switching back to Milwaukee on Thursday.