A Glimmer of Hope in Kawhi Leonard Going Off Vs. Sixers in Sport 1

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TORONTO - For anybody that is watched Kawhi Leonard’s ascension into NBA superstardom, a sport like Saturday evening’s ought to come as no shock.

The three-time All-Star was spectacular, pouring in 45 factors within the Raptors’ 108-95 win over the Sixers in Sport 1 of the second-round collection at Scotiabank Area (see observations).

With that mentioned, there could also be a glimmer of hope for the Sixers as they give the impression of being to decelerate Leonard and get the collection even Monday evening in Toronto.

First, the apparent: Leonard isn’t going to attain 45 factors and shoot over 70 % each evening. Not even Michael Jordan or Wilt Chamberlain averaged these sorts of numbers within the postseason.

It was an unbelievable feat.

“He is a spectacular participant, he had a spectacular evening and he hit some spectacular pictures,” JJ Redick mentioned. “I mentioned this morning, he is a celebrity. He’s pretty much as good as there’s within the NBA at producing his personal shot after which making robust pictures. Typically you simply must tip your hat to him.”

Leonard is likely one of the finest gamers on the planet and can possible be good in at the very least one or two extra video games. This efficiency was past brilliance. This was close to perfection. It was a career-best in a playoff sport for Leonard and marked simply the second time in 93 profession playoff video games that he is topped 40 factors.

None of that is to knock Leonard. Removed from it. It is simply to say that this has the potential to be an extended collection. Perhaps the Sixers are fortunate within the sense that Leonard turned on this virtuoso efficiency in Sport 1 versus down the road.

Their warts being uncovered in opposition to Leonard defensively additionally provides the Sixers time to determine issues out. As an example, after Jimmy Butler began out on him, Ben Simmons appeared to be the simplest in opposition to Leonard. No person was stopping him, however Simmons managed to have an effect on a few pictures together with his size.

“Personally, I believe I did a fairly good job general [on Leonard],” Simmons mentioned. “However he is a troublesome participant. I imply, he is Kawhi. He is a bodily man, quite a lot of size, he can shoot the ball, so he is a troublesome man to match up on.”

Brett Brown has mentioned from the onset that he desires to indicate Leonard totally different seems to be all through the collection. Butler wasn’t essentially unhealthy in opposition to Leonard. Leonard made quite a lot of lengthy, contested twos - a shot you need the opposition to take.

However maybe in Sport 2, Leonard will see extra of Simmons from the leap.

 “When you’ve Tobias Harris, Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons, you’re feeling like it’s important to solutions to determine who’s guarding [Pascal] Siakam or Kawhi,” Brett Brown mentioned. “We had nice success within the Brooklyn collection with Ben guarding the purpose guard together with his size. Might we see him extra on Kawhi? Perhaps. Or perhaps among the others we simply bought to perform a little bit higher and provides them assist with crowds.”

Assist protection was one thing the Sixers bought significantly better with because the Brooklyn collection went on. There have been a number of events Saturday the place there might have been a possibility to problem Leonard on the rim, however the assist was too sluggish in rotating over.

Fortunately for the Sixers, it is only one sport they usually have time to repair it.

But when Leonard repeats this efficiency, there’s not an entire lot any group can do.

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