Raptors Win Game 3

Bad news: Kawhi had to play 52 minutes on a bad leg.

Jim Rome
May 20, 2019 - 11:05 am
Kawhi Leonard

USA Today


That was a macho performance from the Toronto Raptors. They went into yesterday’s Game 3 down 2-0. And even though they were down 2-0, and they hadn’t lost at home yet, that hole felt deeper than normal.

That Game 2 loss by 22 on Friday night was rough. So rough that it felt like more than just one loss. It felt like the series was pretty much over. Getting blown out like that, being down double-digits before the end of the first quarter, completely erased the fact that they nearly stole Game 1. They fell behind 9-0 in Game 2, never led, and spent most of the game being down big. It was that bad. And as happens every time the Raptors find themselves in a jam this year, the “where’s Kawhi going” talk started up again.

And as happens every time the Raptors find themselves in a jam this year and the “where’s Kawhi going” talk starts up, he pulls them right out of that hole and reminds everyone that he’s still in Toronto. And he did that again yesterday.

That was a game they had to have. And they got it, 118-112 in double overtime.

And they did it in maybe the hardest way possible. With Kawhi getting injured and Kyle Lowry fouling out. And then Norman Powell fouling out. And by missing free throws that would’ve iced it in regulation. And by blowing four-point leads in the final minute plus of regulation and the first overtime.

All of that happens and you should probably lose the game. That combination of freaky moments and boneheaded moves should put you down 3-0 in the series and pretty much end it. But that didn’t happen. Because Kawhi wouldn’t let it happen.

36 points, nine rebounds, five assists. He had 8 of their ten points in double overtime. And he did it on a bad leg. Kawhi and the Raptors were able to grind that out. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t spectacular. But it was a gut check and they responded. 

That win wasn’t about talent or skill. As Marc Gasol said, that was about Kawhi and "his resilience. He didn't allow his fatigue, his pain, whatever it was that was bothering him -- he beat it."

This playoff run has been a good reminder for anyone who forgot about Kawhi. He can get you 36 at one end, including crucial bucket after crucial bucket.

Late in regulation.

In overtime.

In double overtime.

Does that look like a guy with a bad wheel who was playing 50 plus minutes? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he was in pain and exhausted, but damn, he’s still explosive.

I don’t want to get too carried away, but do you know how much pressure was on each one of those buckets? That’s an entire team, an entire season, an entire fanbase sitting on Kawhi’s shoulders every time he gets the ball. It’s like the entire city of Toronto held its breath every time he took a shot. And then went ballistic every time that shot went down.

And he wasn’t just doing at the offensive end. He can lock down the best player on the other end. When Kawhi was on Giannis, when it was Klaw v. Freak, Klaw won. Repeatedly.

Giannis was 1 for 9 when Kawhi was on him.  

I’ve got good news and bad news for the Raptors. Good news: you won the game. Bad news: Kawhi had to play 52 minutes on a bad leg.

If Pascal Siakam hits his free throws late in regulation, it’s not nearly as bad. And he knows it.

My bad, Whi.

But Pascal did make up for it with this rejection late in the second overtime.

And there’s more good news/bad news for the Raptors.

Good news: they held Giannis to twelve points. And Khris Middleton to nine points. That’s incredible. An MVP candidate and an all-star and they turned them into 21 points. Total. That’s incredibly good news.

The bad news: they did that and the game still went to double overtime. What’s more insane? Holding Giannis and Middleton to 21 or doing it and the game still going to double overtime? I ask because I can’t tell. That’s how good Milwaukee is. And how tough they are.

And how tough this battle is going to be for Toronto. They poured everything they had into yesterday’s game because they had to have it. They got it. And now they have to come right back again tomorrow night and do it all over again