Kawhi vs. Giannis at the rim was basketball nirvana

1151715586.jpg.0 - Kawhi vs. Giannis at the rim was basketball nirvana

Two individual challenges, both fell in Toronto’s favor

Two of the biggest plays of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals were Giannis Antetokounmpo challenging Kawhi Leonard. The individual tilts were split, but both plays still went the Raptors’ way, helping Toronto to its first NBA Finals in franchise history.

Kyle Lowry steal turned into a charging Leonard in transition. Antetokounmpo was at the rim to challenge, but to no avail, with Leonard’s dunk sending the home crowd into delirium.

That dunk punctuated a decisive 26-3 run for the Raptors in an incredible 7½ minutes, turning a 15-point Bucks lead to an eight-point Toronto advantage.

The still shots of this encounter are stunning in sequence, showing just how close Antetokounmpo came to thwarting Leonard.

usa today 12770868 - Kawhi vs. Giannis at the rim was basketball nirvanaJohn E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
usa today 12770865 - Kawhi vs. Giannis at the rim was basketball nirvanaJohn E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

But despite the demoralizing onslaught by Toronto, the Bucks didn’t fold. Giannis got his chance again at Kawhi with just over two minutes remaining. Leonard tried another dunk but this time Antetokounmpo got him.

However, even this positive turn for the Bucks ended up a Raptors edge, with Pascal Siakam in the right place at the right time for the putback layup. Toronto led by five with 2:06 remaining, and never looked back.

Antetokounmpo and Leonard were the two best players in this series, not a surprise since they are two of the very best players in the league. In Game 6 these individual plays both favored the Raptors, sending Toronto to the NBA Finals, where hopefully we can see more incredible moments like this.

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