Kawhi Leonard just missed his Michael Jordan moment.
There was no way the Toronto Raptors should have woken up Tuesday with a headache from Game 5 instead of a hangover after the all-night party toasting their first NBA championship.
The Raptors trailed for most of the game until the final minutes, when Leonard ignited them with ten straight points that looked like Michael during his tongue-wagging, title-winning years. But the home team lost its focus, and when you have Steph Curry and the Warriors down you have to finish the job.
They came back behind 3-pointers from Curry and Klay Thompson, regained the lead and forced a sixth game back in Oakland Thursday night. Still, it’s unlikely the Durant-less Dubs can win 3 straight in this series, including a seventh game in Toronto.
Are you a Kawhi Leonard fan? He played at San Diego State and then emerged during the end of the Spurs dynasty, winning the 2014 NBA title. Supposedly the Celtics passed on a trade for Leonard, which could be the biggest mistake they have ever made.
Is he as good as Curry and Harden and The Greek Freak? The NBA Finals MVP in San Antonio hadn’t been the main man there. He signed with Toronto for one season, after which he’ll be a free agent. If he wins another ring with the Raptors, he will be guilt-free to stay or go and get his max contract.
Leonard plays beneath the radar for most of the game, accumulating points and rebounds with his workmanlike moves, not flashy style. But when the game is on the line, he is usually money, and his teammates let him down Monday night.
They needed to run everything through him in the last two minutes and then keep moving so Kawhi would get them the ball if he couldn’t get his own shot. You knew Curry & Co. were going to make a run, which meant Toronto had to answer.
Instead, the Dubs scored nine straight points as Leonard took only one shot and went scoreless for the rest of the game. He had already had his near-Michael moment, forging his team ahead by six points. But he, and they, couldn’t close it out.
All it means is the basketball season lasts for another game or two. And at the end, Kawhi will still be crowned the new king.