Rival Watch: What U.S. media are saying about Kawhi, Raptors

Tanya Simon
April 18, 2019

On ESPN's Get Up, former Raptor Jalen Rose takes a step back, looks at the big picture of Toronto's lopsided win and examines the significance of dominant performances like that hold in determining Leonard's future with the Raptors - including how important it is for Lowry to step up like he did.

Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors handles the ball against the Orlando Magic during Game Two of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 16, 2019 at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Leonard finished with 37 points (on 15-for-22 shooting), four rebounds, four assists and two steals - his 15 made field goals are a new postseason career-high. "He was doing it all". He didn't, and it's not, which is why the Raptors need to play better Tuesday and demonstrate why they've been the superior team since October. The series is now tied at one game apiece, with the next two games set to take place down in Orlando. Whereas the Raptors used to try to hold their own when their starters were matched up against the opponent's opening lineup, in this series that's been Orlando's task. According to NBA.com, Gasol has defended him for 88 of the 114 possessions he's been on the floor in Games 1 and 2.

Despite Vucevic's 536 games of National Basketball Association experience, he came into this series having only appeared in one playoff contest - a three-minute cameo with Philadelphia back in 2012. He appeared spry, inexhaustible and entirely comfortable in the confines of a Toronto offense that flowed effortlessly.

Second, Siakam absolutely got the better of his matchup with Isaac, no small feat considering the Orlando forward won the majority of their battles during the regular season.

"The bottom line is, the offensive game that we played (Saturday) night won't win Game 2", Orlando coach Steve Clifford said. "Just reading angles, reading the backside of the defense". It's the playoffs - and he got a little bit more physical, you know? They're a good defensive team.

"Tonight he was just in a groove, getting downhill, getting to his spots", Lowry said. "If I do - just pass it". Per Sports Insights Bet Signals, wiseguys caused two steam moves on the Raptors at -9.5, meaning heavy professional action came down on Toronto over a short period of time, and caused the entire market to react by adjusting the spread.

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"Obviously the sense of urgency was at a very high level and the whole team understood that", Raptors centre Marc Gasol said.

Raptors fans breathed a collective sigh of relief. Both were emotional touchstones Tuesday night.

Marc Gasol's nine points and three assists, Pascal Siakam's seven points and Lowry's four points and three assists covered the majority of the scoring aside from Leonard's efforts. They knew what those guys were capable of in expanded roles, but they weren't in a position to offer the increased playing time or extra touches themselves.

"He was big time tonight", Nurse said. "It makes it hard for me to create anything and they do a good job taking away a lot of my strengths". "I've just gotta figure it out and find a way to be more aggressive and be more efficient offensively". The Orlando Magic are allowing 32.4 percent shooting from deep and are grabbing 46.5 rebounds per game. While the Magic were able to eke out the win, they certainly see plenty of things they must fix and correct if they want to win Game 2.

"It was just more being locked in on every coverage, everything we wanted to do, just being on the same page and communication", Lowry said. We kind of originally made a plan [of] no back-to-backs.

Few teams in the 2019 National Basketball Association playoff field can activate that chain reaction like the Raptors can. Leonard's got to be up to 36 or 37 minutes by the end of each non-blowout playoff game.

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