Leonard gets Saturday off when Raptors visit 76ers
After Kawhi Leonard matched his season best with 37 points in a 126-110 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night at Scotiabank Arena, what does he have in store for an encore?
Nothing, it appears.
Toronto may get a boost from the return of two key starters, though. Nurse said point guard Kyle Lowry and two-way forward Danny Green may return to the lineup, though he added, “I’m not sure they are great chances.”
The walking-wounded Raptors sorely missed their depth during a 2-4 stretch that preceded their current two-game winning streak. But other players have helped pick up the slack, including OG Anunoby, who had 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting.
Anunoby helped the Raptors blitz the Cavs early, taking a 12-2 lead as he scored eight straight points and had 13 of the team’s first 17s as Toronto took a 34-28 lead after one quarter.
“It was great to see OG get off to such a hot start,” Nurse said. “It’s too bad he got in a little foul trouble. We could have let him really roll out some minutes tonight. He only gets 22. It would have been nice to push that up to the 30 mark.”
Philadelphia got major production from secondary sources in its most recent matchup, a 131-109 win over the New York Knicks on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
While Joel Embiid scored 24 points and Jimmy Butler had 20 — not to mention Ben Simmons’ triple-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists — the Sixers also got 17 points from Landry Shamet and nine points from Furkan Korkmaz and Mike Muscala.
Philadelphia shot 53 percent in the win, including 50 percent from 3-point range, as the Sixers bounced back from a 1-3 stretch.
“I feel like experience does help here,” Shamet said. “At the end of the day, the NBA is a different animal. Coming in here, just trying to learn and understand that I don’t know everything. I might have had a lot of college experience, but you have to learn and adjust and I’m still trying to do all that.”
The last time the teams met, on Dec. 6, the stars were out on both sides.
Butler had 38 points and 10 rebounds in the win, but Leonard, who has never lost in 12 games against Philadelphia, scored 36 points in a 113-102 Toronto win.
“He’s an immense talent, he really is,” Nurse said. “And when the stakes go up a little bit, he’s going to play his hand a little harder.”
“I try to perform every night,” Leonard added after the win. “If you try to turn it on against the good teams, it’s really hard to do that. You’ve got to do it on a nightly basis.”