This was the wrong time for the Toronto Raptors to be fiddling around with load management.
After a long regular season devoted to making sure Kawhi Leonard was ready to be deployed as a post-season search-and-destroy weapon, it was time to take the shackles off, throw a little caution to the wind and let Leonard do what he was brought here to do, at considerable expense.
Leonard was ready too. He came out gunning in the early moments of the Raptors’ opening game of their first-round series with the Orlando Magic on Saturday.
He attacked. He dunked. He found the soft spots in the Magic’s bend-not-break defensive configuration and knocked down shots. He had 11 points in the first nine minutes of the game without a miss.
It’s been two years since the 2014 Finals MVP tasted post-season play, and he was thirsty for it.
He wants to help the Raptors get to the promised land, he says, and Game 1 is a big step, his play was indicating.
He stumbled a bit in the second quarter – as did every Raptor that took the floor as the Magic almost ran away and hid – but he found his stride quickly after that.