The Toronto Raptors evened their second-round series with the Philadelphia 76ers at 2-2 on Sunday, thanks to a heroic performance from Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard scored 39 points on 13-of-20 shooting to go with 14 rebounds and 5 assists (and 7 turnovers), carrying a Raptors offense that once again struggled to do much when he wasn’t involved.
Unlike the Raptors’ ugly Game 2 and Game 3 losses to the Sixers, Leonard did receive a bit more help from players like Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka. But even in Game 4, a virtual must-win for the Raptors to avoid going down 3-1, no other player scored more than 20 points.
In the playoffs, Leonard is now averaging 32 points on 57% shooting, 50% from 3, with 7 rebounds and 3 assists per game. Zoom in just on the second round series and his 38 points per game on 60% shooting puts him into a category unto himself.
Leonard’s final points were his most crucial.
With the Raptors leading by one with just over a minute to play, Leonard isolated on the perimeter on a switch with Joel Embiid. With the shot clock winding down, Ben Simmons then left Gasol to double Leonard, when Leonard rose up over Embiid and Simmons and hit a fading, 26-foot three-pointer as time expired to give the Raptors a four-point lead.
The difference in the Raptors offense with and without Leonard is stark. During the playoffs, with Leonard on the floor, the Raptors have an offensive rat