Kawhi Leonard's buzzer-beater sends Raptors to the Conference Finals

Kawhi Leonard's buzzer-beater sends Raptors to the Conference Finals

Kawhi Leonard's buzzer-beater sends Raptors to the Conference Finals

There may be nothing better in sports than a Game 7 — and the second round of these National Basketball Association playoffs ends Sunday with a pair of deciders: third-seeded Philadelphia at second-seeded Toronto in an Eastern Conference semifinal; third-seeded Portland at second-seeded Denver in a Western Conference semifinal.

"We ran a similar play in the [Orlando] Magic [first-round] series, and I ended up just catching and shooting the ball", Leonard said. "So I got to look out for it, but that's definitely, this one and in the one in Brooklyn that I feel like I didn't deserve".

Frankly, top-level effort should be a given in any playoff game, let alone a Game 7, but Toronto simply hasn't brought it every single night.

Long and athletic, deep and versatile and extremely well coached, the Bucks are loaded, a team that became even more threatening with the return of Malcolm Brogdon and the emergence of Pat Connaughton.

Ibaka had just nine points and three rebounds in Toronto's Game 6 loss and was 0 for 3 on three-point attempts. Raptors have a 36-11 home record, while the Sixers are 23-23 on the road.

"It was unbelievable focus". Re-signing both could lock in an expensive core with a potential ceiling-given Butler's age, Harris's talent and Simmons's fit-while letting one walk marks an expensive trade as a painful sunk cost.

We all already know the stakes at this point.

The Raptors will still have Leonard to take over this game, but he might be the only one to step up in a pivotal Game 7.

"I knew I had to come in with high spirits", Embiid said.

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Fred VanVleet was on the Raptors' bench, right behind Leonard when he launched the shot.

The 76ers pushed the Raptors to the limit behind strong performances from Joel Embiid (21 points, 11 rebounds), JJ Redick (17 points) and Jimmy Butler (16 points), but it wasn't quite enough.

Butler about did it all, and showed in the first half why the free agent will command a max contract - $188 million over five years - in the offseason.

It's a tough pill to swallow to say that a season was all for naught when it ends on a miraculous shot, but that's the margin of error Philly has now found itself in. "Sometimes I shoot it when I'm not open". They'd run the lead back up to 12 until Danny Green nailed a shot clock-beating three to make it 91-82 Sixers with under four minutes to go.

There has been much debate as to whether head coach Brett Brown was on the hot seat. "The mood in the locker room, you could sense the serious side". They are going to have looks from three, looks from mid-range, and then, if they can convert a reasonable percentage, I think the Raptors are going to be fine. Kyle Lowry (10) and Pascal Siakam (11) were the only other Raptors to score in double figures.

The turnovers were exacerbated by the fact that the Sixers were atrocious on the glass.

"What he did today was lot of the reasons he was an NBA All-Star at age 22", Brown said. My concern is Lowry has a history of going into a shell in big playoff games.

"It's annoying. It's stupid", Embiid said. All the stuff that has to accrue over many months that will one day lead to the ability to one day be a champion, it's hard. He scored 40 or more points in two games and 30 or more points in three others.

I think there are two key points. The Raptors are 2-1 at home in the series.

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