TORONTO – Two days after being serenaded by chants of “M-V-P!” in Toronto, Raptors star Kawhi Leonard is about to return to an arena where fans won’t be nearly so kind.
San Antonio’s AT&T Center is the stage Thursday for the Raptors’ most anticipated game so far this season. A chorus of boos, the expected soundtrack.
“Give me some popcorn, I just want to watch it,” Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge joked with a San Antonio TV station this week.
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Leonard spent seven seasons with San Antonio, but the relationship soured in a bizarre last season that saw him play just nine games due to a quadriceps injury. He arrived in Toronto with Danny Green in the off-season’s blockbuster deal that sent DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl to the Spurs.
The 27-year-old Leonard returns on the heels of a career-high 45 points in Tuesday’s win over the Utah Jazz. He’s scored 20-plus points for a career-best 14 straight games. The two-time NBA defensive player of the year is also averaging career highs of 27.3 points and 8.2 rebounds a night.
The Raptors are 28-11 and a half-game behind Milwaukee for first in the league, while the Spurs are 21-17 and eighth in a jam-packed Western Conference.