Kawhi Leonard scored 45 points, missing just four of seven 3-point shots, and he also had 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals to lead the Raptors to a 108-95 win against the Sixers in Game 1 of their second round playoff series.
Leonard scored his 45 points on 16 of 23 shooting and 3 of 7 from downtown while Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler combined for 40 points on 16-for-38 from the field.
Embiid: 16 points (5-18 FG)
Simmons: 14 points (7-8 FG)
Butler: 10 points (4-12 FG)
The three-time All-Star discussed his playoff career-high 45 points in the postgame interview:
“This individual stuff is not big for me… My focus every game is to win the ball game. That’s why we are playing this game.”
After the game TNT asked Leonard to have a live postgame interview with sideline reporter Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, who wanted to know how Leonard is able to shoot over defenders and he answered that his teammates trust him and that he practices a lot and then the interview ended abruptly.
Gold-Onwude tweeted after the interview that TNT had to get to Game 7 in Denver so they had to quickly wrap it up. Leonard was more than fine with that:
Kawhi Leonard could be a free agent this summer, he has one year and $20 million left on his current contract and he will likely decline his $21 million player option for next season.
The Clippers just had an unbelievable season despite having no stars on the team and they will have well over $50 million available in cap space this summer, enough to add both Kawhi Leonard and another All-Star. Leonard is a Los Angeles native and he’s been heavily linked to the Clippers, with reports suggesting that he’s more interested in joining them than the Lakers.
Leonard would give the Clippers the ability to contend but his personality and playing style also make him a good fit alongside LeBron James and he would position the Lakers as instant contenders in the Western Conference.
If he’s looking at the Clippers, and I would think that, I mean if he leaves, my expectation is simply that’s where he’d go. He’s looking at these bombers and he’s looking at a team that from the get go will be built around him and he’s going to be where he wants to be and he’s going to be the centerpiece
LeBron James clearly paid attention to Leonard’s performance on Saturday, using a hand emoji on a tweet, obviously a nod to Leonard’s ‘The Klaw’ nickname.
Could LeBron James’ reaction to Leonard’s big game be his way to recruit him?
Leonard’s plans for the future remain a mystery to all, except to himself. The quiet star hasn’t said much about his intentions but Game 1 against the Sixers proved that he was built for big moments, which is why the Raptors, Clippers, Lakers and many other teams would love to have him next season.