);
NBA Finals

NBA Finals 2019: Kawhi Leonard on how the Warriors guarded him in Game 1, his appreciation for Raptors fans and more

Toronto Raptors star forward Kawhi Leonard didn't have his best outing of the playoffs in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, and yet his team was able to earn the win regardless.

At his media availability ahead of Game 2, Leonard talked about the Golden State Warriors making things difficult for him, but he remained unphased by it, as you would expect.

On the Warriors trapping and double-teaming him

"I come into the game just trying to win. If I have my mindset on just trying to score the ball, yeah, it could be difficult. But I'm trying to make the right play out there, and obviously if there are two people on me, somebody is open. I could create a collapse situation. It's really not about me."

Leonard was able to create a number of open looks for his teammates in Game 1. In addition to dishing out five assists, he had five hockey assists and eight potential assists, according to NBA.com.

If they play defense like that, guys are going to step up and make shots. All I could do is keep making the right play. When I do get a free look, make my shots and go back on other end and play defense. It's just not about me scoring or trying to get my offense off. It's a whole collective group out there playing basketball."

The Raptors will play Game 2 in front of another rocking Scotiabank Arena crowd. The city of Toronto has been electric throughout the entire postseason and has become one of the hardest environments for a road team to try and steal a win.

Toronto has also fallen in love with their star player, and Leonard touched on what that means to him.

On the love he's received from the city of Toronto

"I appreciate them for their support. Coming in, I wanted to be able to contribute to the team and be able to get them to this point, and we're doing it so far. I just feel like I did something special for them, just this group, just being able to be the first team to get to the NBA Finals for Toronto."

But he wasn't willing to accept all the credit. Leonard said he's noticed the entire team has received a ton of love from the city.

That's how fans are. Everyone out here they love, not just me. If you walk through the city or if I'm with one of my teammates, they show them a lot of love as well. It's a great support group out here with the fans and with everyone in Toronto."

With another big game on the horizon, Leonard was asked about his approach and if it changes. The reporter acknowledged how Leonard has a "never-get-too-high, never-get-too low" mentality on the court, dating back to when he was going up against LeBron James in the NBA Finals as a member of the San Antonio Spurs.

On his mentality on the court

"Probably just growing up playing basketball. That's all could I say. Just being in those experiences like you named. Going through that whole season. Coming right in as a rookie probably helped me just guarding the best player every night. Always wanting to win."

Leonard also attributed his mentality in-part to a group of former teammates.

"Learning from the great teammates that I had then, from Tim [Duncan], Tony [Parker] and Manu [Ginobili]. Seeing how they approached the game -- every game, win, lose, missing a shot, game-winning shot, making a bad mistake. I guess just growing up, being in these moments before. If you're playing a championship game in high school, you kind of get the same feeling. I just try to take my experiences and just keep moving forward and just have fun."

And more questions followed about his demeanor during games. Even though he feels like the media portrays him as though he's the only one that doesn't over-celebrate or "go nuts," Leonard explained how there have been other superstars before him that have carried themselves in a similar manner.

"I think it's more paid attention to when I do something good. The camera will go to me or see what I'm doing at that exact moment. But when I watch games from past, from Kobe or Shaq or Mike, they always didn't just go nuts. They made big shots and sometimes they pump their fist and walk back to the bench."

Leonard said he likes to stay even-keeled until they win the game or "it's all done," then he'll show some emotion. One reporter asked about his interactions with opposing players and how he responds when someone trash-talks him, but Leonard said he doesn't encounter that too often.

On his response when players trash-talk him

"It really doesn't happen too much. I really can't say it happens."

And lastly, Leonard was asked about the fun that he's having on this team and how that lines up with the fun he's had in the rest of his career.

On this season compared to others

"Pretty much other than my first year, I just pretty much started having fun. When you come in as a rookie, you're trying to stay in the league and you don't know what the league is about or if you're going to stick. After that, I pretty much have been trying to enjoy the game. Obviously, it's a lot more fun when you're getting plays called for you and you're able to live your childhood dream in being able to shoot the ball 20 times a game."

Leonard averaged 18.8 field goal attempts per game this season, the most of his career. In the postseason, that number has increased to 20.9 field goal attempts per game.

The offense is coming toward you rather than just being out there doing one job. Because when you first come in as a rookie, unless you're like a top-10 player, you're really not going to touch the floor a whole lot or get the offense run through you. That kind of throws you off, or for me just like puts you in a box somewhat. You have to figure out a way to have fun."

Leonard has found that fun through the different challenges that he's been presented throughout his career.

Like I said, being a child, I didn't envision myself just being in a box in the NBA. But once that time comes, I feel like you're just having more fun and you're able to experience the game and grow as a player, making plays, seeing double teams and finding other guys. It just gets more fun."

More from NBA.com

#Popovich
Popovich marvels at 50,000 strong crowd in Melbourne: 'It felt like I was in a movie'
Benyam Kidane
antetokounmpo-bogdanovic-mills-ftr.jpg
Who will lead the World Cup in scoring?
NBA.com Staff
#Kemba #Patty
Takeaways: USA surges past Australia in second half
Gilbert McGregor
giannis-082119-ftr-getty.jpg
Is Giannis only at 60% of his potential?
Micah Adams and Scott Rafferty
larry-bird-bill-russell-paul-pierce-082119-ftr-nba-getty
Drafting the best all-time Celtics
NBA.com Staff
nba2k20-event-ftr.jpg
What goes into NBA players' 2K ratings?
Kyle Irving
More News