Warriors

Kawhi Leonard's Game 7 buzzer-beater sends Raptors to East finals vs. Bucks

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Kawhi Leonard's Game 7 buzzer-beater sends Raptors to East finals vs. Bucks

Kawhi Leonard brought something to Toronto it lacked the last few years: A killer instinct.

In Game 7 against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, the Raptors star showed it.

With 4.2 seconds remaining and the game tied, Leonard took the inbounds pass, ran to the corner and hit a fadeaway jump-shot that bounced on the rim FOUR times before it fell in, giving the Raptors a dramatic 92-90 victory.

It's the second series-ending shot of the postseason, joining Damian Lillard's walk-off 3-pointer against Oklahoma City in the first round.

With the victory, Toronto advances to take on the No. 1 seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals. The winner of that series will take on the winner of the Warriors-Blazers Western Conference finals.

Golden State and Portland will begin their series on Tuesday in Oakland, while the Raptors and Bucks will start on Wednesday in Milwaukee.

[RELATED: What to watch in Warriors-Blazers WCF]

If the Warriors get through the Blazers, they won't have home-court advantage in the NBA Finals, as both the Bucks and Raptors finished with better regular-season records.

In each of the last four years, the Warriors have held home-court advantage in the NBA Finals.

Warriors' Klay Thompson will return 'late next season,' father Mychal says

Warriors' Klay Thompson will return 'late next season,' father Mychal says

There is not yet an official timeline for Klay Thompson’s return to the Warriors lineup, but his father provided a pretty good update the other day.

Mychal Thompson, who accompanied Klay out of Oracle Arena after the shooting guard sustained a torn ACL in his left knee in Game 6 of The Finals, indicated his son may be able to resume moderate basketball activities by the end of the calendar year.

“He’s walking normally and he’s very optimistic and enthusiastic about getting back late next season,” Thompson said on the NBC Sports Bay Area Warriors Insider podcast.

“Once he gets back up to the bay and is around the team and he’s working out . . . he probably won’t be on the court doing fullcourt drills until late December or January. So, he’s got quite a ways to go. The main thing is to stay dedicated and diligent in your rehab and just continue to work hard and keep that motivation to get back on the court with his teammates.”

Thompson sustained the injury on June 13 and underwent surgery on July 2. With a typical recovery period falling anytime between six months and nine months, his father’s projection is within range.

Mychal even offered a comparison: Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, who had surgery in February 2017. LaVine five months later (in July) announced himself ahead of schedule. Four months later, he was throwing down windmill dunks in full-contact practices.

When LaVine did not return until January, it was speculated that he could have come back sooner if the Bulls weren’t committed to tanking.

There is no questioning that LaVine aced his recovery.

“Modern medicine has advanced so much since 10, 15, 20 years ago,” Mychal Thompson said. “Guys come back from this injury and are normal. You can look at a bunch of players in the league now who have suffered that injury and have come back because they’ve dedicated themselves to their rehab. And they come back as if nothing ever happened.

“Doctors are so good now. Modern medicine is so good at repairing these athletes. That’s the way I talked to Klay. You’re going to be fine. Look at Zach LaVine. He had the same injury and is as bouncy as ever because guys like that work hard to come back. (Klay) will come back stronger than ever.”

Thompson’s injury led some to wonder if the Warriors might reduce the proposed max contract offer once he became a free agent. They didn’t. Thompson last month signed a five-year pact worth $190 million.

[RELATED: What attracted Warriors to D'Angelo]

“We never worried about that, because (Warriors CEO) Joe Lacob and management have been so loyal to their core players and what they have meant to that franchise,” Mychal Thompson said. “And with this injury, every doctor assured Klay and the Warriors that he was going to come back as good as ever.”

The Warriors would happily accept that and remain hopeful that Thompson will be able to return to game action sometime in February or March.

Why Bob Myers believes Warriors' title run felt like 'running five marathons'

Why Bob Myers believes Warriors' title run felt like 'running five marathons'

It's hard to blame the man.

After five consecutive runs to the NBA Finals, just about every member of the Golden State Warriors organization was drained. General manager Bob Myers recently joined The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami on his podcast, and went in-depth on the toll these marathon seasons have taken.

“Thinking back to my state of mind, there's things I know. I was tired, I know that. Just the five years, I don't know how that plays with the audience and listeners and how to convey that appropriately, but internally, for those that work here, that was, we felt that.”

“And not having time each offseason, leading right into the draft, leading right into free agency, I look at it as running five marathons back to back to back. And the fifth one, you're just like 'Can we cross the line?'”

Myers also constantly dealt with questions regarding the 2019 free agency period throughout the tail end of the season.

“I didn't have that kind of certainty that you intimated as far as did I know if Kevin was gonna go or stay. It was more of 'There's a lot of work to do and a lot of unknowns’.”

[RELATED: Warriors projected to face Clippers in playoffs by ESPN real plus-minus]

KD’s departure put a bow on what was one of the most dominant three-year runs by a team in NBA history. Although the team salvaged All-Star D’Angelo Russell in the Durant sign-and-trade, the team still enters 2020 with a litany of unknowns.

“I don't think it was a fear of what was upcoming, it was just more of, there's a lot of uncertainty.”