Kawhi Leonard didn't play to his usual standard in Game 3 of the Toronto Raptors' first-round series with the Orlando Magic, but there may have been good reason for that.
After the game, which the Raptors won by a final score of 98-93, Toronto head coach Nick Nurse was asked about what the Magic did to limit the three-time All-Star to 16 points on 5-for-19 shooting from the field. In response, Nurse mentioned how the Magic stepped their aggressiveness up a notch before revealing that Leonard had been held out of practice the last couple of days because of an illness.
"Listen, that was a gutsy performance by him," Nurse said. "He didn't practice the last couple of days, he hadn't been feeling that well, and for him to go out there and fight through that and still play 37 minutes - I'm probably going to look down at this thing and I'm most proud of his 10 rebounds. He was just battling.
"It wasn't easy for him out there tonight. Once again, I thought they played him very, very, very, very, very physical and then he kept going in there and taking the hits and kept on playing."
"That was a gutsy performance by him."- NBA TV (@NBATV) April 20, 2019
Nick Nurse on how Kawhi (16 PTS & 10 REB) handled Orlando's defense in Game 3. #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/vvYrf39cAt
Leonard's 37 minutes were the third-most on the team, trailing only Pascal Siakam (42) and Kyle Lowry (40). He attempted a game-high seven free throw attempts in those minutes and also handed out four assists.
Leonard said after the game that he felt great and that there was no doubt that he'd play.
"It's the playoffs and we want to come out and win the game," Leonard said, per TSN's Josh Lewenberg. "That's all I'm thinking about. It doesn't matter what the circumstances are."
Leonard will have one day to rest up before the Magic host the Raptors for Game 4 on Sunday.