Kawhi Leonard made history Sunday night with his dramatic buzzer-beater to propel the Toronto Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals with a 92-90 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, and he understood the magnitude of the moment.
"It was great," Leonard said, per Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com. "That's something I never experienced before—Game 7, winning shot. It's a blessing to get to that point and make that shot and feel that moment and it's something I can look back on in my career."
Nobody has experienced that before.
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Arnovitz noted it is the first Game 7 buzzer-beater in NBA history and only the second shot to end a series in a do-or-die game. Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan drilled a buzzer-beater to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 in the first round of the 1989 playoffs.
Leonard’s buzzer-beater was his 39th field-goal attempt of the game and hung on the rim for what seemed like an eternity before it fell through. He finished with 41 points and averaged 34.7 a night in the series win over the Sixers.
The Raptors will surely need more of a balanced effort against a Milwaukee Bucks team that led the league in defensive rating during the regular season, per NBA.com, but they were winning or losing with their best player doing the heavy lifting on the offensive end in Sunday’s decisive battle.
They traded for Leonard for these exact moments, and he delivered in historic fashion.