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Kawhi Leonard turned into The Terminator against $70M worth Giannis Antetokoumpo and it paid off

Akash Murty

Kawhi Leonard turned into The Terminator against $70M worth Giannis Antetokoumpo and it paid off

A fully fit Kawhi Leonard is a nightmare for any All-Star scorer or an All-NBA defender, his 2019 season with the Raptors was the best showcase of it.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the most unstoppable players in the game of basketball. When he decides to have it his way, not even triple-teams or DPOYs could do much to stop him.

On one such occasion, when he had won the first of his two consecutive MVPs, the Bucks big man led his team to the Eastern Conference Finals and was in the pole position against the Toronto Raptors to get through to make his first Finals appearance.

A 22-point blowout in Game 2 in Milwaukee, had the Bucks 2-0 up in the series. Some adjustments were needed by Raptors head coach Nick Nurse to make a comeback in the series.

And as his assistant Phil Handy remembers, there was only one adjustment needed to turn around the series and win it all, Kawhi Leonard turning himself into The Terminator.

Also read: Bill Russell asked Tim Duncan to be a pallbearer at his funeral, much like he was asked by Jackie Robinson’s wife


Kawhi Leonard turned his Terminator switch on and stopped Giannis and Co. for good

The 2019 MVP was having his way with the Raptors, averaging 27.0 points and 15.5 rebounds through the first two games, and something had to be done. In his appearance on All The Smoke podcast, coach Handy spoke about “a key” or should we say “The Klaw” adjustment that helped change the series.

“The man (Leonard) is like The Terminator, for real. We were down 2-0 against Milwaukee, Nick Nurse came into the locker room and said, ‘we’re gonna make some adjustments, we’ll get back Toronto and we’ll be ready.’ And Kawhi said, ‘the adjustment, is I’m guarding Giannis.’” Handy remembered.

The Bucks hadn’t lost two games in a row that entire season until then. Guarded by Leonard for most of the game, Giannis could score just 12 points in the momentum-shifting Game 3. The Bucks would lose 4 in a row and hence give away their chance to make it to the Finals to face the Warriors.

And what followed that, as we all know, is the greatest Playoffs series in Raptors’ history.  They would win their first-ever championship and Kawhi would win his second ring while collecting his second Finals MVP as well.

Also read: If $50M worth Charles Barkley got paid today’s NBA salaries, he’d go to games in a spaceship like “Leroy Jetson”

About the author

Akash Murty

Akash Murty


An Electrical and Electronics Engineer by degree, Akash Murty is an NBA Editor at The SportsRush. Previously a Software Engineer, Murty couldn’t keep himself away from sports, and his knack for writing and putting his opinion forward brought him to the TSR. A big Soccer enthusiast, his interest in basketball developed late, as he got access to a hoop for the first time at 17. Following this, he started watching basketball at the 2012 Olympics, which transitioned to NBA, and he became a fan of the game as he watched LeBron James dominate the league. Him being an avid learner of the game and ritually following the league for around a decade, he now writes articles ranging from throwbacks, and live game reports, to gossip. LA Lakers are his favourite basketball team, while Chelsea has his heart in football. He also likes travelling, reading fiction, and sometimes cooking.

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