Leonard, Raptors grind out win to even series with Sixers

Some terrible Toronto shooting had conspired to keep the Philadelphia 76ers in the game, but with the final frame about to begin, the score was tied at 75.

In Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, he erupted for 39 points, including a step-back, game-icing 3-pointer as the shot clock was winding down, and the Raptors evened the series by defeating the 76ers, 101-96, at Wells Fargo Center.

Leonard rollicked for 39 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in almost 43 minutes.

Only three other players in National Basketball Association history have posted averages of 30 points, five rebounds and three assists on an effective field goal percentage greater than 60 in a postseason that extended longer than one round: LeBron James (2016-17), Shaquille O'Neal (1997-98) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1976-77). Gasol had 16 points and five boards; Ibaka contributed 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks off the bench.

"It just felt like we were getting pushed around a little bit in the last two games around the glass", Nurse added. It was a stepping stone. "We can't be satisfied with it".

According to the Raptors, Siakam is doubtful to take the floor due to a calf contusion.

The Sixers got another terrific showing from Jimmy Butler, who with 29 points (9-18 fg, 3-7 3fg, 8-10 ft) and 11 rebounds registered his second playoff double-double this season, and the fourth overall of his career. He had texted his coach at 6:20 a.m saying he was unsure he could play, but he did. That was not the case in Game 4.

"The Claw" was everywhere and punctuated his picturesque playoff performance with a clutch three-pointer with 1:01 left to play in the game with Sixers star Joel Embiid in his face to give Toronto a 94-90 lead. There is still plenty for the Raptors to work on, and plenty more adjustments for the 76ers to make. He leaned mostly on his five starters, plus Ibaka, with some small spot duty for Norm Powell, Fred VanVleet and Patrick McCaw. Toronto - the NBA's top three-point-shooting team in the second half of the season - made a concerning 10-of-31 from beyond the arc, many of them uncontested.

"The stuff that he can get off - and we had two people out there - the stuff that he can do to create his own shot is Kobe-like", Sixers coach Brett Brown said.

Finally, Tobias Harris hurt the Sixers badly with a 2-13 shooting night from three-point range. He played 28 minutes, and lacked much of the athleticism he typically uses to dominate.

Judging by Leonard's point totals so far this series - 45, 35, 33 and 39 - one might be forgiven for thinking the Australian hasn't done a good enough job.

Leonard has covered Toronto's warts all series, making up ground lost by the Raptors' terrible supporting cast. He quickly returned and played out the quarter.

The Raptors are seeking their first trip to the Conference Finals since 2016, while the 76ers are looking to return for the first time since 2001.

  • Rosalie Stanley