And some of it was due to the Raptors, as an organization, biding their way through the months between October and April. If they have any hope of winning this series, they need to maintain that level. Leonard's 45 points are the 2nd most points in a Playoffs game in Raptors franchise history (Vince Carter - 50 points on 5/11/01). "J.J.is one of the best".
His leaving has opened up the path to the East title, and Toronto - the team with the NBA's second-best record this season, 58-24 - might have its best chance yet of reaching the NBA Finals.
Scott, a tough big man who is a strong outside shooter, was Washington's third-leading scorer against the Raptors in Round 1 past year, averaging 10.8 points, including scorching 7-11 shooting from beyond the three-point arc.
As the wait continued for a series members of the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers are eagerly anticipating, there was no bulletin board material being provided by either side. Their second-ranked defense made life tough for the Magic and they seemed to make a concerted effort in guarding DJ Augustin after he went off in Game 1 against them. Whether Leonard would sign up to play with LeBron remains to be seen, but James has said all the right things about him over the past few seasons.
"But, that killer instinct", he said, warming up to the subject now.
Sports Philadelphia's Paul Hudrick, Danny Pommells and Noah Levick make their predictions for the series. While Orlando may not have posed much of a threat in the opening round, the Sixers figure to make matters more challenging for Toronto starting Saturday.
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If he misses any time against Toronto, Philadelphia would be in for a world of hurt.
"He was able to break their will, so to speak, and that's what superstars do", VanVleet said. The Raptors acquired Gasol at the deadline while Philly traded for Harris as part of a six-player deal.
The Raptors' playoff shortcomings - and Lowry's - are well-documented. The Sixers' center played in four of the team's five games against Brooklyn and averaged 24.8 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.8 blocks in just 24.3 minutes per game. "Cliff did a hell of a job", Toronto coach Nick Nurse said, adding that he believes the Magic have a bright future. Toronto didn't match Gasol with Embiid all game, Serge Ibaka got time on Embiid and the Sixers didn't take advantage of that and pound Embiid in the post (but they likely will try in Game 2). "I'm not saying he can do it all the time. But like I said, I just got to keep managing it and see how I feel and then go from there". "It's not easy to do and he can do it once in a while, and it's pretty intimidating, too".
Leonard said scoring isn't a valid evaluator of Lowry anymore. "I know that's probably not what you're talking about or how they're sharing the ball with each and all that stuff, but to me they're being such great leaders with the effort they're putting forth on the defensive end that I don't think anyone else who comes on the floor has any option but to play defence because your two leaders are out there giving themselves up, playing hard, getting down, blocking shots, tipping balls, rebounding, blocking out". After the all-star break in mid-February, the Raptors shot better than 41% from three-point range, best in the National Basketball Association. They lost in the East finals in 2016. And 2017. And also 2018. Toronto led 92-81 with one quarter to play.
"It's about winning", Lowry said. Leonard had a career-best 27 first-half points in a playoff game.