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SportsBruce Arthur: Raptors come to Kawhi’s rescue, even series with Bucks

12:20  22 may  2019
12:20  22 may  2019 Source:   thestar.com

Bruce Arthur: Raptors bring Claw and order with blowout win over Sixers in Game 5

Bruce Arthur: Raptors bring Claw and order with blowout win over Sixers in Game 5 “He has to come down eventually, doesn’t he?” That was the whisper in the halls before the game, from all sides. In Game 4, Kawhi Leonard bailed the Raptors out. The Philadelphia 76ers did, too. Every time Toronto needed to make a shot it felt like Kawhi created one, up to the big one at the end. And every time Philly needed a shot, it felt like they missed. Game 4 was an escape from a 3-1 deficit, balanced on impossibly broad shoulders. Imagine the potential consequences had the Raptors lost. Instead, Toronto had a chance to push the Sixers to the edge of elimination, and in Game 5 they looked like a weight had been lifted. Leonard was finally human, yes. It was jarring.

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Bruce Arthur . Подлинная учетная запись. @ bruce _ arthur . Toronto Star columnist, father of four, TSN contributor.

Bruce Arthur: Raptors come to Kawhi’s rescue, even series with Bucks© Steve Russell Kawhi Leonard might have looked tired but he had enough energy to contain Eric Bledsoe on this play in the Raptors’ 120-102 win over Milwaukee.

Kawhi Leonard looked like your dad, creaking and slow, first thing in the morning. Who wouldn’t, really? He had taken everything, eaten all that he could, gone past what he probably thought were his limits. Finally, Kawhi looked tired. Carry a team long enough, and it wears on the legs. And that’s before you really start to limp.

And finally, the Toronto Raptors had to be the ones to pick him up. Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final against the Milwaukee Bucks was basically the season. Might as well be a team. With so much on the line, the Raptors finally showed up in full, blowing out the Bucks 120-102 to even the series at two games. It was the second time Milwaukee lost two in a row all year. It’s a series now.

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Kawhi was a monster, first-quarter limp and all. He was deemed to have guarded Giannis for a team-high 41 possessions Kawhi Leonard once turned a younger LeBron James inside out in a playoff series , and LeBron Let the biggest deer come . Bruce Arthur is a Toronto-based sports columnist.

With 4.2 seconds remaining in the Game 7 of Eastern Conference Semis vs Sixers, Kawhi ' s buzzer-beater shot bring out the crowd wild when he launches it and

Kawhi was lead-legged from the start; he dunked on Giannis early in the third quarter on a cut through the lane but limped to the free-throw line. His jumper was short, short, short. He was hunting steals, trying to keep Giannis out of the paint, trying to bash his way to the free-throw line. Pascal Siakam, meanwhile, was collecting fouls. It had to be someone else.

So many Raptors stepped forward. Fred VanVleet,, who was 4-for-20 in the series, hit five of six shots for 13 points, plus six assists. Serge Ibaka entered the night 8-of-24, and had been left on the bench when all else failed in Game 3; he finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Norm Powell was his serenely confident self: he had 21 points in the whole second round, and has 51 in his past two games, though he missed his share in this one.

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Kawhi Leonard "feel share" after Raptors beat Bucks Gm 6 to advence NBA Finals - Продолжительность: 11 Jalen Rose IMPRESSED by Raptors take 3-2 series lead behind Kawhi ' s 7th 35-Pt game of postseason - Продолжительность: 15:03 Skip & Shannon 54 018 просмотров.

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Kawhi finished with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting, and had enough for a three-pointer in the fourth to push any comeback away. Add the defence, and this was something closer to the team that went 17-5 without Kawhi, that won in Utah on the second night of a back-to-back without him, that won back-to-back games against the Clippers — funny that the Raptors held Kawhi out of that game, in Los Angeles — and in Golden State, with all four big Warriors in the lineup, by 20.

Toronto wasn’t just a one-man band this year, with Kawhi playing the banjo, the harmonica, and a big bass drum. That was before the playoffs started to eat at that depth; before OG Anunoby’s appendectomy, before Philadelphia’s size shrank VanVleet and Powell, before Milwaukee forced them to play a Game 1 in which all but three of Toronto’s second-half points were scored by Lowry and Kawhi. At the end of Game 3 there were so few Raptors on the floor that you figured you could trust. Since the Philadelphia series, the recurring theme has been: Is this team good enough for its superstar?

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Bruce Arthur Ретвитнул(а) Bruce Arthur . Updated: Oklahoma City asked for Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and four unprotected first-round picks as a starting point for Paul George. The Raptors believed they were being used as leverage, and believed Kawhi finally, truly wanted LA.

Kawhi leonard with the ankle breaker on malcolm brogdon and giannis antetokounmpo in game 3 of the bucks vs raptors matchup.

And then Kawhi was tired and limping, and the Raptors showed up. Toronto built a lead in the second quarter with a 13-0 run built on the backs of Ibaka, VanVleet and Powell. They pushed again in the third, which included VanVleet banking a three on the way to a 20-point lead. VanVleet had only closed Game 3 because Lowry fouled out, and was so far down the hole you wondered if knew where the light was. He was finally, more than anybody, back.

They just played. Marc Gasol was a rock for the second game in a row, and Lowry, playing at his most mentally acute despite that injured left thumb, was simply marvellous, with 18 first-half points on the way to 25, plus everything else. When his Raptors career ends, put this game on the list of the ones you appreciated.

Kawhi had played a career-high 52 minutes in Game 3 while taking the primary defensive duties on Antetokounmpo, the elastic Shaq. He started the game limping on his left leg, and ended it limping on his right, holding the quad that cost him a whole season in San Antonio, and whose treatment or mistreatment paved his path to Toronto.

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“The team leans on him heavily,” Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon said before the game. “So there’s a lot of pressure and a lot of responsibility on him. We have an opportunity to make it even tougher for him as he wears down. Me and Khris (Middleton) have been thrown at him one after the other, and I think we’ll continue to wear him down.”

And for at least one game, he did. If not for a bad two-and-a-half-minute stretch late in Game 1 — a game where only Lowry had a high-end offensive game, for him — Game 4 wouldn’t have been existential for Toronto. But then, if not for so many plays in Game 3, Toronto would have been Portland, on the verge of getting swept. The margin of error is slender, at this time of year.

When the Raptors traded for Kawhi, this was the goal. That’s why they traded for Gasol at 34, despite Kawhi’s looming free agency. Might as well go for it.

And all the Raptors really knew was that Game 4 was the season, and an opportunity to sell out for one another in what might be their last, best chance. What’s left? Well, it’s a series now, and the Raptors finally looked like themselves. Game 5 is Thursday night.

Bruce Arthur is a Toronto-based sports columnist. Follow him on Twitter: @bruce_arthur

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