It's been one year since Kawhi Leonard's four-bounce shot fell through the hoop and propelled the Raptors to a historic championship run.
We know what the result of the game was after Leonard came up clutch, but what if he had missed? Would the Raptors have still won the game and moved on? Or would the 76ers got the win on the road in overtime?
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We asked our NBA.com staff to tell the truth about what they think might have happened if Kawhi had missed.
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): It's hard to say what would've happened had Kawhi missed the four-bouncer, but I do know one thing - we would've been in store for an epic one-on-one showdown in overtime.
We know the game Kawhi had with 41 points and the game-winner, but 15 of those points came in the fourth period. He stepped up when the Raptors needed him most. On the other side, Jimmy Butler became a prime time player for his squad. Butler had six points to his name going into the fourth with his 76ers down three. He then poured in 10 points to not only get them back into the game but have them in a position to force an extra period.
Butler also came up with the biggest bucket of the 76ers season, which felt like it sucked the gravity out of Scotiabank Arena.
All that being said, I still think the Raptors would've prevailed. They had had their backs against the wall a couple of times in those playoffs and then again after the shot and found a way to power through. Kawhi was already working on a 40 burger and Serge Ibaka had it going.
I also think that in a close game it would come down to free throws and execution, two things the 76ers weren't great at a year ago. The 76ers were 25th in the league in turnovers per game (14.9) and were dead last in the playoffs (16.9). Philly shot 79% in the playoffs from the line. Alternatively, the Raptors led the playoffs in free throw percentage and cut down on their turnovers in the playoffs (12.1) from their regular-season number (14.0) to finish in the top five.
I'll take those two stats, the home-court advantage, the better coach and the best player in the series in overtime.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): I think the 76ers would've won had Leonard's shot not dropped.
I thought the Raptors were the better team at the time, but momentum was in Philadelphia's favour and the Raptors weren't getting much outside of Leonard and Ibaka. And considering Leonard was "tired" by that point of the game - Ibaka's words, not mine - I'm not sure he had enough in the tank to carry the Raptors in overtime.
Remember, Leonard attempted 39 field goals in that game, which was the most by a player in a Game 7 since Elgin Baylor back in 1962. Kyle Lowry had taken the second-most shots on the team, but he had only 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting from the field. Neither Pascal Siakam (11 points on 4-for-11 shooting) nor Marc Gasol (seven points on 3-for-8 shooting) were much better, and Danny Green (two points) and Fred VanVleet (four points) were basically non-factors on offence.
It's possible one of them would've heated up or that Ibaka would have given the Raptors the scoring punch outside of Leonard for them to pull through. The 76ers just seemed to be in better shape than the Raptors to me nearing the end of regulation. And for that reason, I think they would've come up with the victory.
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): I'll play the role of tiebreaker and I'll give the benefit of the doubt to the Toronto Raptors.
On the surface, yes... the Raptors looked tired. And yes, the 76ers had momentum.
But it comes down to simply trusting Kawhi Leonard more than Jimmy Butler.
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According to NBA.com's player tracking, Embiid was the slowest moving player on the court in that game and had played all but 67 seconds in the second half. He's not exactly the poster child for endurance so it's fair to question how much of an impact he would have had in overtime in a game in which he was already just 6-18 from the floor. Ben Simmons has yet to prove he's able to step up in big moments so its more likely he's once again resigned to dunker spot duties offensively, leaving Butler to go at it with Leonard.
The 76ers had more weapons, but couldn't solve Toronto's D. Over the final five minutes, the 76ers made just one shot in the half court - a ridiculous off-balance JJ Redick jumper with two defenders on him coming off a screen. That's it. Contrast that with Leonard throwing on the cape and getting to his spots, I tend to side with the notion that Leonard would have still found a way to cross the finish line and finish the job.
Leonard's shot is an all-timer, one of those moments that will live on forever.
But did it actually change much in the grand scheme of things?
I say no.
They still would have won in overtime. They still would have taken out the Bucks. And they still would have been crowned NBA champions.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.