Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors' man of mystery, took Toronto to new heights last night, marking the Raptors biggest playoff win in the franchise's history. The Raptors managed to break their previous playoff record of 27 points last night. The team's previous record was set during their playoff game against the Miami Heat during the 2015-2016 season. Last night, however, the Raptors put up an astonishing 29 point victory over the Magic.
Leonard was out for blood from the start. According to SportsNet, Kawhi only played roughly 10 minutes during the game's the opening quarter, but his presence on the court led Toronto to a trailblazing headstart. My personal favourite moment of the quarter was when Orlando called for a time out, as the Raptors were already in the lead by 9 points. Honestly, it seemed like Orlando was trying to figure out what had just hit them, and it was about to get so much worse.
Leonard then mercilessly reminded the team who was king after the timeout, putting the Raptors ahead even further. The moment served as a stirring reminder of what happens when you let a beast like Kawhi rest for a few moments while you try to collect your thoughts:
Leonard managed to make history for the Raptors, despite the fact he played for just 33 minutes. However, by the time he was benched the Raptors were up by 31 points and his statement had been made, but that's not to say taking Leonard out of the game was a decision head coach Nick Nurse took lightly.
“I guess I had a decision to make there, right?” explained Nurse during an interview with SportsNet. “I think at that point we were off to a good start and we were imposing our will on the game and I figured I’d roll the dice so our will could continue to be imposed."
Despite his absolutely merciless first quarter, Kawhi was undeniably at his best during the third when he essentially finished the game with a 30-17 burst. According to a report by the Toronto Star, Leonard was on the court the entire quarter and his stats were impeccable. He was 7-9 from the floor and just for kicks, he threw in an assist that elevated Toronto to 90-66 lead ahead of the fourth quarter.
To say Leonard was on fire during last night's game against the Magic would be an understatement. Leonard was a raging inferno - he showed up and performed like boss, exactly when his teammates needed him to the most. It's giving fans a reason to be hopeful for this playoff run.
When the dust had settled, Kawhi walked off to deafening cheers from the crowd. A standing ovation broke out as the history-maker finally sat down for his much-deserved rest.