The game-winning shot Kawhi Leonard hit to beat the buzzer in Game 7 on Sunday night was one of the best in the entire 2019 NBA Playoffs. His clutch bucket with the game tied and a chance to send the Toronto Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals was up there with the 37-foot game-winner from Damian Lillard in round one.
And after Leonard’s shot fell through after multiple bounces and the Raptors had defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, the player who shows little emotion could barely contain himself during a postgame interview. When speaking with TNT’s Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, Leonard was nearly in tears while talking about the moment and the season.
Leonard addressed a number of topics in the interview, including sounding off on how tough the 2018 season was for him, which appeared to be a tough topic for the star forward.
Kawhi Leonard Talks ‘Down Year’ in 2018
Gold-Onwude asked Leonard about his journey and going from playing just nine games last season to joining a new team with a new coach, and if he had any doubts in the change. Leonard admitted he did and opened up on the topic during the same postgame interview.
“Yeah, last year was a very down year for me. I was going through a lot, but everything that was going on … and God is good. I prayed every day and ended up getting healthy and now I’m able to play basketball, and you can just see what he does for you.” Leonard stated.
After such a tough previous year and some doubt, it seems, Leonard was superb all season long. He posted career-high averages in points (26.6) and rebounds (7.3) while shooting 49.6 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc over 60 games.
Kawhi Leonard’s Postseason Dominance & Game 7 Performance
Leonard dominated at many points during the team’s first-round matchup against the Orlando Magic, finishing the series with averages of 27.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists. He shot 56.6 percent from the field in that five-game series while also knocking down 50.0 percent of his attempts from 3-point range.
When the second round got here, Leonard was on another level. He scored 45, 35, 33 and 39 points over the first four games, shooting 54.2 percent or better in each matchup. He averaged 34.7 points, 9.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists over the seven-game series, continuing the red-hot shooting by hitting 54.0 percent of his attempts.
While Leonard’s clutch game-winning shot in Game 7 will be the talking point, his ability to grind it out during the win was impressive. The 27-year-old forward’s shot wasn’t falling how it had throughout the series, yet he kept firing and produced in a number of ways. Although Leonard made just 16-of-39 attempts in the 92-90 victory, he saved the best moment for last and finished the night with 41 points.