The Toronto Raptors (18-4) take on the Golden State Warriors (15-7) tonight at 8:00 p.m. on TSN 4.
Since this Warriors dynasty began back in 2014, Raptors' star forward Kawhi Leonard is 6-6 versus the team that's won three NBA championships in that span.
The last time Leonard shared the floor with the reigning champions was in 2017, when his San Antonio Spurs were up 21 points at Oracle Arena in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Leonard had scored 26 points in 24 minutes of playing time to give his team a massive lead before he rolled his ankle around the eight-minute mark of the third quarter.
Leonard did not return for the rest of the game - or the series - and the Spurs blew that 21-point lead and eventually were swept 4-0.
The Warriors went on to win the 2017 NBA Finals and the 2018 NBA Finals after that. Would things be different had Leonard been healthy? Could San Antonio have possibly defeated Golden State in that series, returning Leonard to his third NBA Finals in a Spurs uniform? We'll never know.
But what we do know is that Leonard currently has the Raptors in first place of the Eastern Conference going into what could be a preview of this year's NBA Finals on Thursday.
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So let's take a look at how Leonard has stacked up against the Warriors since this dynasty began...
Over 12 matchups (both regular season and playoffs) against Golden State since the 2014-15 season, Leonard has averaged a solid 20.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.1 steals per game.
He's had mostly all good games, with only one or two bad games. His best game (excluding the 24 minutes he played in Game 1 of the WCF) came on opening night of the 2016-17 season where he spoiled Kevin Durant's Warriors debut in a blowout win at Oracle Arena.
Leonard torched Golden State for 35 points on 10-for-21 shooting from the field. He attacked the rim relentlessly, resulting in 15 free throw attempts, in which he sunk all 15. He had five rebounds, five steals, three assists and finished plus-14 in a game that the Spurs won 129-100.
If we're going to bring up the good, it's only right to bring up the bad: Leonard's worst game against the Warriors came late in the 2016-17 season in, surprisingly, a game where they were without Durant.
Leonard still had 19 points but was ineffective from the field, going 7-for-20 (35.0 percent) and missing all five of his 3-point attempts. He still corralled seven boards and dished out five assists but he turned the ball over five times, the most he's ever turned it over in a contest versus Golden State. The Spurs lost 110-98 and he wouldn't see them again until that Western Conference Finals Game 1.
Since the start of the 2014-15 season, the Raptors are 0-8 versus the Warriors. In their final meeting last year they suffered a close two-point loss at home; earlier last season it was a five-point loss at Oracle Arena. Five of their last six meetings resulted in two-possession losses, so the Raptors are right there but haven't pulled off a win yet.
Whether or not Leonard gets Toronto over that hump will be seen tonight, but he has a history of stepping up in big games and this one should have the atmosphere of an NBA Finals game even if it is late November.