1. Kawhi Leonard bested Giannis Antetokounmpo
Kawhi Leonard bested the leading candidate for NBA regular season MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo in this series. It was thanks to the heroics of Leonard in the third quarter that gave his team momentum to win the game.
With the Raptors trailing 72-58 with 3:46 left to play in the third frame, Leonard scored or assisted on 12 of the teams’ 13 points to close the quarter. He had eight points and two assists during that stretch. It was the beginning of a 26-3 run that gave the Raptors their eight-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Leonard had completely outplayed his superstar opposition, Antetokounmpo in this series. They each had highlight plays at the other’s expense. Most notably for Giannis was his monstrous block denying Leonard of a jam. But it was Leonard who had the last laugh with one of the most memorable dunks in the franchise’s postseason history prior to it.
Leonard had four offensive rebounds, one of which came after his own missed free-throw in the final frame that led to two more. Another came after a Siakam missed free-throw in the last moments of the game gave his team an extra possession to squash all hopes of a Bucks’ comeback. Leonard has been the team’s best player and without a doubt the best player in the Eastern Conference. He significantly outperformed two of the best the East has to offer in Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid in back-to-back series.
Having the title of the best player in the Eastern Conference, Leonard will possibly go up against the reigning Finals MVP Durant — pending his health — and the Warriors. Leonard and his Raptors have an opportunity to prove everyone wrong by usurping one of the best dynasties in NBA history. In the process, they could also win the biggest championship the city of Toronto and everyone in Canada hasn’t seen since 1992 when the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series.