Going into yesterday’s historic game 7 with the Sixers, many Raptor fans were naturally antsy that Kawhi will not return unless they win. Now the Raptors have advanced with that incredible, franchise moment defining and NBA game 7 history rewriting shot by Kawhi Leonard, they are once again worried that Raptors will lose to the Bucks and Kawhi will walk. That’s just not the positive energy support the Raptors need from the fan base.
I think this brief break before the Bucks series starts on Wednesday is a good time to remind Raptors fans to relax, keep cool and enjoy the playoffs with my 3 compelling reasons why Kawhi will return and none of these have anything to do with where they finish in these playoffs.
Reason # 1 - The Toronto Raptors
Only the Toronto Raptors with Alex McKechnie have the team medical and support staff, players and coaches that can allow Kawhi Leonard to take 22 games off for Load Management and still finish with the second overall best record in the NBA securing playoffs home court advantage over every team except the Milwaukee Bucks. Nick Nurse let it slipped out in a radio interview during his early days as head coach that the Golden State Warriors were the only team they need home court advantage in order to beat. And they have this taken care of. As for the Bucks, Nick Nurse seemed confident they know how to beat them on the road.
Reason # 2 - The Los Angeles Clippers
Unless Kawhi Leonard plays in at least 70 games, the Clippers won’t even make the west playoffs. So Kawhi’s thoroughly thought of plan to stage his comeback at a smart, gradually increasing and sustainable pace, be even better than before and reach all the way to the top will just crumble down to pieces with the Clippers. There was a theory that the Clippers intentionally gave away Tobias Harris to help the Sixers beat the Raptors so Kawhi Leonard will leave the Raptors for the Clippers. If true, that has totally backfired as of yesterday. And one would think how much more an attractive destination the Clippers will be conducive to winning if they have Tobias Harris to play the role Pascal Siakam’s Batman to Kawhi Leonard’s Superman. But proven time and again, the Clippers were run by idiots and Kawhi’s group is too smart to want to go there.
Reason # 3 – The Eastern Conference is the clear and easy path to the top
Granted that the Clippers make it to the west playoffs, still with the much higher level of competition brought about by the proliferation of strong teams in the western conference (Kawhi should know having played there for the Spurs), playing a regular season over there will be more like Gladiators in a Colosseum atmosphere and certainly not the regular season games Kawhi aptly described as "practice for the playoffs" enabling him to stay fresh and focus his greatness on games that count.
If you read an article by Howard Beck on how Kawhi and his support group have carefully calculated what it would take and planned his step by step comeback to the top even before he was traded by the Spurs, you will know that they don’t make much noise but they are very thoughtful group. You can be sure that they are aware of what are the points of considerations that are in full alignment with their plans.