The playoffs are here and that means Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors are one step closer to their goal of winning an NBA title.
The Raptors will tip off their Eastern Conference quarterfinal best-of-seven series against the Orlando Magic this afternoon (Apr. 13) at Scotiabank Arena.
Leonard is all set to get the Raptors playoff journey started.
“I mean pretty much every game matters,” the star small forward said of the playoffs and what they mean to him. “You’re closer to your goal and you really have to buy in and win games. So I mean, that’s what I value the most.
“Just being closer, And every game means something, to a certain point.”
The Raptors, who finished second in the conference with a 58-24 record, face a hot Magic team that won eight of its last 10 contests to finish seventh with a 41-40 record. The two teams split their four head-to-head games this season.
The Raptors will be without OG Anunoby, who had an emergency appendectomy, Apr. 11, after being diagnosed with acute appendicitis. There is no timeline for the forward’s return.
Anunoby had appeared in 67 games with the Raptors this season, averaging 7.0 points, 2.9 rebounds and 20.2 minutes.
“My first thoughts (are) what a bad break for him,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. “Just bizarre timing and it doesn’t even happen on the basketball court or has nothing to do with it, so I feel bad for him. Obviously I think he’s had a difficult year, but just in the last 10-12 days I feel he was in a really good space. Just starting to move around a little better, feel a little better about himself.
“I think he was really looking forward to kind of putting that chopped-up regular season that he had behind him and kind of getting a fresh start here with the playoffs and now he won’t get that chance.”
Tip off for Game 1 today is 5 p.m.
Game 2 of the series is Apr. 16 in Toronto. Start time is 8 p.m.