Throughout his latest Herculean playoff performance, Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard exhibited a noticeable limp on the court.
Leonard led the Raptors to a 118-112 double-overtime victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday night. Already down 2-0 in the series, the Raptors needed Leonard to shoulder a heavy load yet again to keep their season alive.
He did just that, leading all scorers with 36 points while logging a career-high 52 minutes. And he did so while often tasked with guarding Bucks MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was held to a playoff-low 12 points.
After the game, attention quickly turned toward Leonard’s health. He seemed to first show signs of discomfort with his left leg after an awkward landing in the first quarter. And his limp was especially prominent after a monstrous transition dunk in double-overtime. Raptors coach Nick Nurse told reporters that he thinks Leonard is “OK.”
“I think he’s OK. It was a lot of minutes, but I think he’s OK,” Nurse said.
Leonard echoed those sentiments.
“I’m good. I’m just going to keep fighting. I’m going to be playing,” he said.
Toronto cautious with Kawhi after 2018 injury
Leonard missed much of the 2017-18 season, his last with the San Antonio Spurs, dealing with a quad issue. After the trade to the Raptors, the team was cautious with his health throughout the season. Leonard played in 60 of the team’s 82 regular-season games, always sitting out half of each back-to-back for what the team termed “load management.”
That approach has certainly paid off in the playoffs.
Leonard is coming off a historic second-round performance against Philadelphia. While logging similarly heavy minutes, he averaged 34.7 points per game in the series and hit a miraculous buzzer-beater over 7-foot-2 Joel Embiid in Game 7, sending Toronto to the conference finals for just the second time in franchise history.
Leonard got help from Pascal Siakam (25 points, 11 rebounds), Norman Powell (19 points) and Marc Gasol (16 points, 12 rebounds) on Sunday night. But it’s clear that if the Raptors are going to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, it’s going to be with Leonard leading the charge.
Leonard and the Raps will have the chance to even the series at 2-2 on Tuesday night.
More from Yahoo Sports: