NBA: 76ers 94, Raptors 89
We’re running it back because they can’t.
With the National Basketball Association on hold for the foreseeable future, TSN and Sportsnet are airing the entirety of the Toronto Raptors’ playoff run to the 2019 NBA title. You can watch Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night on TSN4/5 at 8pm et.
Over these 24 games, fans can relive the highs and lows – there were lows, but you just might not remember them – of that magical run to the franchise’s first-ever championship, capping a remarkable turnaround from NBA laughingstock to the league’s very best.
From Kawhi Leonard calling the series against the Philadelphia 76ers, to the team improbably overturning a 2-0 series deficit against the Milwaukee Bucks, to that famous June night in Oakland when the Raptors got their hands on the Larry OB, you can relive all 24 games that made the Toronto Raptors NBA champions.
April 29, 2019 - Eastern Conference semi-finals Game 2 - Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors
Just as he had all season long, Kawhi Leonard reminded the world that he was one of the best basketball players in the NBA with his career-best performance in the Toronto Raptors' 108-95 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series, the team’s fifth consecutive post-season victory.
Leonard went off for a career playoff-high 45 points against the 76ers and he did so in style, shooting an efficient 16-of-23 from the field while going 10-of-11 from the free throw line. The Raptors star also added 11 rebounds in the game.
While Leonard left Raptors fans in awe with his performance, the 2019 all-star said he actually wanted to exit the game when he was just two points away from breaking his career-high mark.
"I was trying to get out of the game before it got to that point," Leonard said. "We were up 20 points with probably like five minutes left and I was already looking at the bench, trying to get them to take me out of the game."
Speaking to the media after the game about his star player's performance, Raptors coach Nick Nurse said Leonard was "fun to watch." 76ers coach Brett Brown, who coached Leonard during his first two seasons of his career when the two were members of the San Antonio Spurs, said that Leonard was "leaps and bounds" better than the player he remembered in San Antonio.
"The variety of ways that he scored and could get his shot off on some pretty good defensive players and big athletes was incredibly impressive," Brown said.
Leonard's running mate and fellow 2019 all-star, Kyle Lowry, also heaped praise on Leonard.
"Kawhi was just in the zone," Lowry said. "He probably could’ve had more, but he facilitated some and made some shots."
"[Leonard's] as good as there is in the NBA at generating his own shot, and then making tough shots," 76ers shooting specialist JJ Reddick, who had 17 points against the Raptors, said.
While his performance was overshadowed by that of Leonard's, Pascal Siakam also had a strong game for the Raptors, finishing with 29 points on a stellar 12-of-15 shooting. The Raptors third-year man matched Leonard stride for stride in the first quarter, with both players torching the 76ers for 17 points. Lowry added the third-highest scoring total from a Raptor with nine points, and the floor general also contributed a game-high eight assists.
Fellow 2019 all-stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons put up 16 points and 14. respectively, for Philadelphia, and Jimmy Butler, the third member of the team’s 'Big Three’ had 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
The Raptors improved to 3-14 in the first game of a playoff series with their win over Philadelphia. The Raptors last series-opening win came in 2018 when they took down the Washington Wizards on April14, 2018 in the first round of the playoffs. Ironically, the Raptors' only other Game 1 win occurred in 2001 when Vince Carter led Toronto to a win over Allen Iverson's 76ers. Toronto ultimately lost that series in seven games.
Will the Raptors build on Leonard's career performance in Game 1 and capture their sixth straight playoff win when they take on the 76ers in Game 2? Find out Thursday night on TSN4/5, TSN.ca, the TSN App and TSN Direct.
Here's what TSN personalities remember about Game 2:
“Philly desperately needed a Game 2 boost, and the Butler did it. Jimmy Buckets did his best Kawhi impression and put the Sixers on his back. The Klaw was at it again but the Raps played from behind for most of this one. Joel Embiid, who was listed as doubtful before the game, looked sickly. When Embiid walked into the building, he looked like he was about to puke, but somehow mustered enough energy late for the dagger. Raps had a good look at the final buzzer but "Mo" turns his head to Sixers and is about to board a flight to Philly. Two rounds down in this slugfest and the judges have it all square. Can't wait for some Cheese steak.”
“After Kawhi Leonard’s explosive 45-point performance in Game 1, the 76ers went back to the drawing board. A heightened defensive intensity held the Raptors to 36% from the floor, while Jimmy Buckets erupted on the offensive end. Toronto’s second unit contributed only 5 points as the 76ers fought to steal a win on the road.”
“Philadelphia showed lots of resilience in this game, especially Jimmy Butler. He was outstanding. Sixers bench out scored Raptors 26-5. Former Raptor Greg Monroe came up big against their old team. Raps D was sound. Gotta win ugly in this series.”
“OK not a sweep like I predicted after Game 1! I remember noticing Brett Brown’s defensive adjustments immediately! Slowing down Pascal and Kawhi for a game is one thing, but we all knew the 2 stars wouldn’t be contained for long. We’ve got ourselves a series!”
“As bad as the Raptors played offensively, they hung around. How? 2 words. Kawhi. Leonard. He was brilliant again but didn’t get enough help in game 2. Outside of the Big 3 (Leonard/Siakam/Lowry), Toronto got just 13 combined points from its supporting cast, including 5 from the bench. We knew depth could be an issue in this series, but… 5 bench points? That’s hard to overcome.”
“Game 2 just felt as though the team was one step behind the entire way. Credit to Brett Brown and his defensive adjustments, especially putting Joel Embiid on Pascal Siakam. Jimmy Butler had a game. For Toronto, it was just enough to take them out of their game and they were never really able to recover.”
“Jimmy Butler exploded, and the Raps offence imploded. Despite a valiant comeback, the Raps just fell shortly. Remarkably, Joel Embiid made it in time to the game! No chance he misses it, no matter how under the weather he was feeling. The Sixers stole one...and we now have a series!”