What a night it was for the Toronto Raptors, as they qualified for the NBA Finals for the first time in their franchise history against the Milwaukee Bucks. Kawhi Leonard was once again decisive, posting 27 PTS, 17 REB, 7 AST, 2 steals and 2 blocks in a game where the Bucks were in front by 15 points at some point in the 3rd quarter. It seemed to be over and it looked as we’re going to have a Game 7 in Milwaukee at that moment, but Giannis Antetokounmpo and his guys just didn’t know how to manage the clock and the offense all of a sudden. They were controlling the game since the start of it, being in front all the time until the 4th quarter by 5 or more points.
The Raptors became the sixth team in league history to come back from being down 2-0 in the Conference Finals (teams are 6-51 in those situations). Kawhi Leonard has 11 30-point games in these playoffs. The only players in postseason history with more such games prior to the Finals are Michael Jordan (13 in 1989, 12 in 1990) and Hakeem Olajuwon (12 in 1995), per Crazy Stats. This shows how great Kawhi really is and how he managed to be the greatest Raptor of all-time in just 8 months of basketball played there… we just can feel sorry for DeMar DeRozan. If we take a look at Leonard’s story, at how the Spurs organization tried to kind of punish him last season by not wanting to trade him to the Lakers, sending him all the way to Canada instead, we see that he overcame all that noise and proved those who doubted him wrong. This is the first time that a team outside the United States is performing in a NBA Finals.
Kyle Lowry also stepped up his game these series and he was an important factor last night, scoring 17 PTS and dishing out 10 AST, with a crucial steal in the ending minutes of the 4th quarter as well, that led to a Kawhi open dunk on transition. Pascal Siakam showed up once again, but this is nothing new at this point, as he was very constant in his game throughout the whole season. He ended the game with 18 PTS and 4 REB. Fred VanVleet was the secret weapon of this series, though. He was shooting the lights out, sinking 4 out of 5 from beyond the 3-point line, for a total of 14 points. He had a 61,5% from three in this series. Now they have to take the ultimate test against the almighty Warriors, and if we take a look back in the recent years, we certainly remember that playoffs night when Kawhi was killing the Golden State Warriors in their home court right before Zaza closed-up on his ankle. Also, in this season, the Raptors beat them twice in their meetings, so there are actually chances.