76ers

Kawhi Leonard had one final dagger for the 76ers in Game 7

Four bounces.

A quartet of bounces that has left one city in ecstasy and another in disbelief.

The Philadelphia 76ers killer Kawhi Leonard had one final dagger to the Sixers’ hearts, receiving all those fortuitous ricochets off the iron on his buzzer-beating fadeaway jumper to send to the Toronto Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Leonard received the inbounds at the top of the arc, maneuvered along the right wing on Ben Simmons before getting Joel Embiid on a switch and letting his fadeaway from the right corner fly over the outstretched right arm of Embiid on his closeout for a 92-90 Raptors win over the Sixers in Game 7 at Scotiabank Arena.

Leonard finished with 41 points, albeit on a not-so-efficient 16-of-39 from the floor. He scored 13 of Toronto’s final 15 points over the last 7:10 of the game. Leonard’s final shot was eerily reminiscent to Vince Carter’s fadeaway 18 years ago in Game 7 from the left wing, but that bounce didn’t go the Raptors’ way.

It was a heartbreaking loss for the Sixers, who certainly had their chances and shouldn’t be blaming anybody but themselves. Their offense was stagnant over the final few minutes of the game, basically committing a trio of shot-clock violations. One possession was an actual shot clock violation, while the other two were forces with zero showing on the monitor following a lack of flow or ball movement on the trips down the floor.

The Raptors also held a dominant 16-5 advantage on the offensive glass and took 24 more shots than Philadelphia, which held the Raptors to 38.2 percent shooting (34-of-89) and 23.3 percent from beyond the arc, but all those extra opportunities proved costly.

Ben Simmons took just five shots and posted 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while Embiid hovered along the perimeter for most of the night and finished 6-of-18. He was also 1-of-6 from beyond the arc.

Embiid, who scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half of Game 6, used his face-up game over the final 24 minutes of that contest to ensure a Sixers victory. That face-up game, however, was limited to 2-of-10 in the first half Sunday. The girth and width of Marc Gasol gave Embiid fits on the blocks all series, but I still would’ve liked to see a lot more post touches in this one.

Leonard’s shot came after Jimmy Butler went coast-to-coast for a layup to tie it at 90-90 with 4.2 seconds remaining. Butler was ice cold to start the game (1-of-8), but went 4-of-6 in the final frame and netted 10 points.

The Sixers shot just 34 percent in the first half, but trailed by just four, 44-40, heading into the break because Toronto was shooting 34 percent itself. Philly went on a 16-0 run in the third after the Raptors went up 50-41, with Redick knocked down a pair of triples and Embiid converting a three-point play during the surge to stake it to a 57-50 advantage.

The Raptors answered back by closing the period on a 17-7 burst and led 67-64 heading into the fourth, but Redick was back at it again with less than four minutes to go when this three-point play following a left wing jumper knotted the game at 85-85.

Embiid was visibly heartbroken after the game, unafraid to wear his emotions on his sleeve. Everyone in Philadelphia feels his pain at the moment.

Like Rocky once said, it’s not about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.

Will Brett Brown be back as head coach, what about about Butler and Tobias Harris?

How do the Sixers move forward from here?


You can follow Adrian Fedkiw on Twitter (@AdrianFedkiw) and e-mail him at adrian@phillyinfluencer.com. Subscribe to The Bitter Birds on YouTube here.

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