Playoffs 2019 East Semifinals: Raptors (2) vs. 76ers (3)
Horry Scale: Leonard eliminates 76ers with rim-bouncing shot at buzzer
Baseline jumper is first game-winning buzzer-beater in Game 7 playoff history
David Lundy, NBA.com
A reminder on The Horry Scale: It breaks down a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety night in November?) and celebration. Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, named for the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.
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Kawhi Leonard carried the Toronto Raptors throughout their Eastern conference semifinal series with the Philadelphia 76ers. So it was only fitting that he willed them to victory in Game 7, winning the series 4-3 with a long 2-pointer from the baseline that bounced four times on the rim before falling through after the buzzer had sounded.
How large was Leonard’s role in the win? He scored 41 of the Raptors’ 92 points, and attempted 39 of their 89 field goal attempts. He added eight rebounds, three assists and three steals for good measure. He scored 13 of the Raptors’ final 15 points.
DIFFICULTY: Considering how many shots Leonard had put up (38), it had to be difficult to muster enough energy for the 39th, especially having played 43 minutes. Plus, the defensive attention was laser-focused on him as the obvious go-to player with the game on the line. Leonard was just inside the 3-point line, but it was a tough baseline angle with his momentum carrying him toward the corner.
GAME SITUATION: A trip to the Eastern Conference finals was on the line with 4.2 seconds left. Jimmy Butler had just scored with a finger-roll layup to tie the game at 90. Leonard took the inbound pass from Marc Gasol, curled quickly to his right on the dribble and pulled up with a fadeaway jumper in the far corner as Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons defended.
CELEBRATION: The normally stoic Leonard yelled ecstatically as he was mobbed in the corner by teammates, who had watched Leonard’s high-arching shot bounce not once, but two, three, four times off the rim before finding the bottom of the net. Rounding out the importance of the moment was Embiid, whose hands covered his head beside the mob of celebrants as he realized the shot ended the 76ers’ playoff run.
GRADE: It’s possible to hit a tougher shot in a more meaningful game, but only if it was Game 7 of the conference finals or Game 7 of The Finals. This historic feat earns Five Horrys.