Playoffs 2021

NBA Playoffs 2021: How has Kawhi Leonard performed in previous Game 7s?

At this point in his career, LA Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard is no stranger to a win-or-go-home Game 7.

Leonard owns a 2-3 record in Game 7s, with his most recent coming in a loss to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semfinals last season. But let's not forget - the former Finals MVP also had the signature moment of his career occur in a Game 7 - his buzzer-beating game-winner against the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2019 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Leonard is coming off of one of the best performances of his career against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 6, going off for a playoff-best-tying 45 points to keep his team's season alive.

Can he repeat that magic on the Clippers' home floor to keep their title aspirations going?

With all of that in mind, let's take a look back at how he has performed in Game 7s ahead of one of the biggest games of his career.

2020: Game 7 vs. Denver Nuggets, Western Conference Semifinals

Result: Loss - Nuggets 104, Clippers 89

Stats: 14 points (6-22 FG, 2-7 3PT), 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals

Last year's Game 7 in the West Semis was one to forget for Leonard - and the Clippers as a whole. Leading by as much as 12 points in the first half, LA seemingly put things on cruise control far too early as the Nuggets fought hard to complete their record-breaking second-consecutive 3-1 series comeback in a row.

Leonard had a slow start with just two points in the first quarter before turning it on a bit in the second, going for 10 points. With 12 points and a two-point lead at half, the Clippers desperately needed their star closer to step up and Kawhi couldn't answer the call.

He would knock down a midrange jumper with five minutes remaining in the third frame, and that would mark his only two points in the entire second half.

Shooting 1-for-11 from the field and 0-for-4 from 3 without attempting a single free throw in the second half, Leonard's efforts would come up far short of what was necessary to advance the Clippers to the Conference Finals.

2019: Game 7 vs. Philadelphia 76ers, Eastern Conference Semifinals

Result: Win - Raptors 92, 76ers 90

Stats: 41 points (16-39 FG, 2-9 3PT), 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals

Perhaps the defining moment of Leonard's career, he willed the Raptors to victory, burying the first Game 7 buzzer-beater in NBA history and just the second shot in NBA history to end the series in a do-or-die game.

Those four bounces etched Leonard in Toronto sports history as they went on to win the NBA title in 2019, with Leonard eventually being named as Finals MVP.

Who knows if any of that happens without Leonard's game-winner in the second round.

This was his first Game 7 as a franchise player, giving us the best indication of what we might expect from him, given the other three Game 7s came while he was a member of the San Antonio Spurs, alongside Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

2015: Game 7 vs. LA Clippers, Western Conference First Round

Result: Loss - Clippers 111, Spurs 109

Stats: 13 points, 10 rebounds, 5-of-13 FG, 1-of-4 3PT

The defending champion Spurs fell in the first round of the NBA playoffs in 2015 at the hands of a Chris Paul floater with one second remaining.

Leonard, then 23-years-old, struggled to leave his imprint on the game as he battled foul trouble all night, playing 33 minutes in Game 7.

His only score of the fourth quarter came down the stretch on a layup with 2:47 remaining to put the Spurs up 105-102, before Matt Barnes answered immediately with a 3-pointer for the Clippers.

He finished 1-of-7 in the fourth quarter as the Spurs became the first defending champion to go out in the first round since the 2007 Miami Heat.

2014: Game 7 vs. Dallas Mavericks, Western Conference First Round

Result: Win - Spurs 119, Mavericks 96

Stats: 15 points, 6 rebounds, 7-of-14 FG, 1-of-5 3PT

The Spurs cruised to victory against the Mavs to advance to the second round behind 32 points from Tony Parker, with Leonard chipping in 15 points on the night.

San Antonio was barely threatened in this game as they led by as many as 31 points, with Leonard playing 29 minutes, knocking down open shots and putting the clamps on the Mavericks' wings - Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and Jae Crowder.

The Spurs would go on to beat the Heat in the NBA Finals, with Leonard winning his first Finals MVP.

2013: Game 7 vs. Miami Heat, NBA Finals

Result: Loss - Heat 95, Spurs 88

Stats: 19 points, 16 rebounds on 8-of-17, 1-of-4 3PT

Leonard's first Game 7 of his career came in just his second season, on the biggest stage the NBA has to offer with the Larry O'Brien trophy on the line.

After Ray Allen's heroics in Game 6, the Heat seized the opportunity, behind 37 points and 12 rebounds from LeBron James in Game 7 as they earned back-to-back titles.

A 21-year-old Leonard acquitted himself well in Game 7, with his primary job guarding James on one end, while he recorded 19 points at the other, earning plenty of praise from Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich despite the result.

"I just talked to Kawhi and told him he was absolutely amazing," Popovich said after Game 7.

"Nobody expected him at this young age to play the way he has through the whole playoffs. He really is a star in the making. He's just beginning to feel what he has. He's like a little baby learning how to walk, as far as NBA basketball is concerned. He (could be) a senior in college this year, and he's come so far, and a lot of that credit goes to [Spurs assistant coaches] Chip Engelland and Chad Forcier what they've done in developing him."

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