In 2001, the Toronto Raptors took the Philadelphia 76ers to seven games in a fight for an Eastern Conference Finals bid against the Milwaukee Bucks. In Game seven, Raptors star Vince Carter got the ball, dribbled around a defender, and threw up a long two-point shot. It bounced off the rim and went out and the Sixers went onto the Eastern Conference Finals and then the NBA Finals.

Toronto got their revenge on Sunday night. Former San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard, who the team he had just traded for, got an inbound pass from late-season addition Marc Gasol. He dribbled around the Sixers defense, trailed by center Joel Embiid in the remaining seconds of a 90-90 tie game. Leonard threw up a long two-point shot. It bounced. It bounced again and then once more. And then it went through the hoop. Game. 92-90, Toronto wins.

Last time the Raptors played a Game seven, it ended in a 27-point blowout against the Miami Heat that pushed Toronto to the Conference Finals for their first time in history. But as had happened so many years before, LeBron James took over and made the city his own, earning the nickname “LeBronto,” and heading to his eight straight finals appearance.

But this year was different. With LeBron headed out West to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Raptors shook things up. They fired the reigning NBA Coach of the Year and then they traded away longtime star DeMar DeRozan to bring in Leonard.

Even if Leonard stays up North for only a year, it’s paid off for Toronto. He’s lead the team throughout the series, scoring 243 points. That’s the most since Michael Jordan scored 246 in the 1993 NBA Finals. And in Game seven alone, Leonard put up 41 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Now, the Raptors will hope to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in team history. First, they’ll have to beat Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.


Here’s some of the best tweets about Leonard’s performance:


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