A pair of former Finals MVP’s, future Hall of Famers and current superstars delivered an epic on-court battle as two of the league’s best squads hooked up for a potential NBA Finals preview.
Nick Nurse’s exquisite, Craig Sager-inspired blazer aside, it was Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant stealing the show in Toronto on Thursday.
The first of two meetings between the NBA heavyweights didn’t disappoint in the slightest, with the Warriors and Raptors exchanging blows and showcasing their deep rosters and top-flight individual talent for 48 minutes plus overtime as the Raptors took a thriller 131-128.
In one of his first real tests in a Raptors uniform against a legitimate contender (albeit, a shorthanded one), Kawhi showed up at Scotiabank Arena in a big way and popped off for his best game of the young season — posting 37 points, eight boards and three assists while dropping 14-of-24 from the floor and going 3-for-6 from downtown.
It was the fifth time this season Leonard put up 30-plus points, with two of those efforts coming against the Boston Celtics and one against the 76ers — a couple of the big dogs expected to push Toronto for the Eastern Conference crown this spring.
In what should’ve been Kawhi’s night to bask in all on his own, some dude named Durant had other plans, matching Leonard’s season-high and raising him a game-high in points while shoving an egregious 51 down the Raptors’ throats and almost single-handedly stealing one for the ailing Warriors, who were without Steph Curry and Draymond Green.
The Raptors were just a little too deep on this night, however, as Pascal Siakam complimented Leonard’s heroics for Toronto beautifully with a take-a-bow type night of his own — putting up a career-high 26 points on 8-for-10 shooting. Kyle Lowry chipped in with a double-double with 10 points and 12 dimes, and Serge Ibaka was an absolute beast alongside Siakam in the Raptors front court, delivering 20 points and adding four boards.
Klay Thompson chipped in 23 points for Golden State on 9-of-20 shooting, while Jonas Jerebko knocked down 20 of his own in the losing effort.
These two loaded clubs hook up again in a couple weeks in California, and we will happily sign up for another seven matchups in June, thank you very much.
More NBA coverage from Yahoo Sports Canada: