Rick Zamperin: Kawhi Leonard is a beast, but needs more help if the Toronto Raptors hope to beat the Bucks
Can the Toronto Raptors do it again? That’s the question we’re all asking ourselves as Game 4 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Final arrives Tuesday night at Scotiabank Arena.
Toronto needed double overtime Sunday to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 118-112, a victory that cut Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1. The Bucks blasted the Raptors 125-103 last Friday, two days after Milwaukee took the series opener 108-100.
But despite needing two extra periods to corral the Bucks, Raptors fans should be encouraged by a couple of things.
No. 1, there’s no way Toronto was going to get swept in this series and the dinos showed a lot of heart towards the end of Game 3. After leading for much of the game, it could have gone sideways for Toronto in OT but it didn’t.
Kawhi Leonard was a beast at both ends of the floor. He not only scored a game-high 36 points, Leonard played a career-high 52 minutes and held NBA MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo to a playoff-low 12 points. Even after tweaking his right leg in the first quarter Leonard came up big time and time again.
However, the Raptors still have to do a better job of supporting Leonard on offence and that goes beyond the likes of Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol. Those three players combined for 52 points of 18-of-35 shooting (51 per cent).
I’m pointing to the likes of Danny, Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka. That trio had a horrible shooting night on Sunday, combining for 11 points after going 4-for-29 from the floor (13 per cent).
I understand that not every player can have a hot hand during a game, but if Norm Powell didn’t come off the bench and score 19 points the Raps would be down 3-0.
Toronto will need Leonard and the supporting cast to ramp up their game even more Tuesday night if they want to get the better of the Bucks in this series.
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