Kawhi Leonard goes for 45 as Raptors take Game 1 vs. Sixers

Eric HeYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4896/" data-ylk="slk:Kawhi Leonard">Kawhi Leonard</a> led the charge for the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/toronto/" data-ylk="slk:Raptors">Raptors</a> in their Game 1 victory over the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/philadelphia/" data-ylk="slk:Sixers">Sixers</a>. (Getty Images)
Kawhi Leonard led the charge for the Raptors in their Game 1 victory over the Sixers. (Getty Images)

Playoff Kawhi is a problem.

Kawhi Leonard scored 45 points, leading the charge in the Toronto Raptors’ 108-95 Game 1 win over the Philadelphia 76ers to start off the series with a home win. It was a rare series-opening win for the Raptors, just their second Game 1 win in franchise history.

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Leonard shot 16-of-23 from the field for his 45 — the most he’s scored in a postseason game — in addition to grabbing 11 rebounds.

“My teammates have confidence in me,” Leonard said. “[The shots] just went down tonight.”

Pascal Siakam chipped in 29 points as well. The Sixers were led by JJ Redick, who had 17.

Sixers ended the third quarter on a 9-1 run, but could not chip away at an 11-point deficit at the start of the fourth. In the fourth, Leonard striped a corner three and then a turnaround jumper to give the Raptors an 18-point lead, serving as the dagger.

Offensive barrage

The Raptors could not miss early on, making 13 straight shots at one point in the first quarter. They shot 57 percent in the first half, and Leonard was on a roll. He was everywhere — that patented midrange turnaround, 3-pointers, driving layups, kicking out for open shots, blocks that led to transition points.

Leonard finished with 27 points in the first half, though the Sixers hung around, trailing by 8 at the end of one and 9 at halftime.

What’s funny, though, is that Ben Simmons believed he played good defense on Leonard.

But Toronto pulled away in the third, using a 10-0 run to bump the lead to 14 points. After the Sixers had clawed within a point in the second quarter, the Raptors built up a comfortable margin.

Kawhi says no

Leonard’s signature moment came late in the third, when he rejected Tobias Harris’ layup attempt, and Siakam dunked on the other end to give the Raptors an 83-70 lead.

And Drake, noted Raptors fan, was actually cheering for the right team this time.

Game 2 will be Monday at 8 p.m. ET in Toronto.

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