The bat flip of basketball.
Kawhi Leonard took 39 shots on Sunday night but the first 38 will be forgotten. The last one, never. The greatest moment in Raptors history. The ball almost frozen in time bounced on the rim before falling four seconds after Leonards fadeaway release.
The moment perfectly captured by Toronto Star photographer Rick Madonik demonstrates the tension as the ball seemed to rattle around the rim for an eternity.
The final score was 92-90. A defensive game from the start till end proved how valuable the additions of players like Danny Green and Marc Gasol really were. With the 76ers scoring only 13 points in the first quarter and 40 points in the first half.
On top of his game winner Kawhi Leonard finished with 41 points leading the Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals. Alongside Leonard, Serge Ibaka had his best game of the playoffs. Finishing the game with 17 points and eight rebounds. As well as playing solid defense. He made himself a presence in the paint all game long and made the 76ers rethink about driving into the painted area. Shoutout to Band-Aid Serge.
The Raptors will move on to face the number one team in the NBA during the regular season, the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks easily handled the Boston Celtics, defeating them in five games.
Clearly the first step for the Raptors will be to limit the success of Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. Stopping him completely is impossible, just like Leonard against the 76ers, when he’s on, he is on. Matching up Leonard or Siakam with Giannis on the defensive side of the ball for a majority of the series will be crucial.
The Raptors did a great job double teaming and switching in game seven against the 76ers and will need to do just as well against the Bucks. When double teaming Giannis you can’t leave the Bucks shooters open or you will dig yourself a hole quickly.
Khris Middleton will make the Raptors pay if they don’t play sound defence on the perimeter.
Previously the Raptors defeated the Bucks in six games back in 2017 in a first round matchup. This also being before Giannis made the jump to MVP status.
The Raptors will start the series with what seems like the momentum of a cargo train. If they can use that momentum to get out to a early series lead the Raptors could be on their way to the first NBA Finals appearance in franchise history.
Game one is in Milwaukee on Wednesday at 8:30 EST.