The Toronto Raptors will be heading to the Eastern Conference Finals after defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 92-90 with a game-wining Buzzer beater by Kawhi Leonard. Toronto will be facing the Milwaukee Bucks next and it may be a better series what anyone expects.
Winning Game 7 in that fashion has got to be satisfying for the Raptors. They played great defense but nobody but Leonard was really scoring. Leonard has 41 points but took 39 shots to do so. Nobody blames him because it seemed like nobody but Leonard wanted to even attempt a shot. He came through for them but if the Raptors rely on him like that again, it may be their downfall.
So what did we learn from this series? The 76ers were predicted to lose to the Raptors and they did. That is sad because they had the better roster. It may lead to the 76ers head coach Brett Brown being fired and rightfully so. They were out-coached and that is what it all came down to. Yes, the Raptors had Leonard to go to but the 76ers had four starters that they could have set a play up for. Toronto has to go to Leonard and that is obvious but the 76ers could have gone to any of the four starters and they would have had an elite player taking the shot.
Ben Simmons keeps hurting his team in the playoffs and it is getting ridiculous at this point. He won’t even attempt a shot and teams know this so they play off of him. Simmons needs to shoot if he wants to be kept in the lineup in the last two minutes because he is great the first 46 minutes of the game but not in the end when you need to spread the floor. The 76ers need to make changes if they want to win but right now, it isn’t clear what those changes will be besides firing their coach.
The Raptors made changes after losing in the second round last year to the Cleveland Cavaliers and it paid off. They traded for Leonard and hired Nick Nurse. Now, everyone is saying how well that trade and hiring worked out. I still think it is too early to decide. If they made the NBA Finals, then you could say that but they only made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. They will be facing an uphill battle against the Bucks and if they lose, Leonard might leave and we’ll be having this conversation again but it’ll go differently.
The last point I wanted to make or debate is how good Leonard’s shot was. It bounced four times before it went in and time froze for everyone watching. Even Leonard had enough time to squat out of bounds and watch the shot go in. Was that shot better than Damian Lillard’s shot against the Oklahoma Thunder? This was a Game 7 and Lillard’s was in Game 6. I think it is awfully close and either pick is fine. Leonard’s fade-away over 7’2″ Joel Embiid is crazy but Lillard shot a step back from 37 feet.
These playoffs have been spoiling us with ridiculous highlights and game winners. NBA players are getting better and better and it has led to the best playoffs in ages. Are you not entertained?