Kawhi Leonard scored a career playoff-high 45 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Pascal Siakam added 29 points and the Toronto Raptors beat the Philadelphia 76ers 108-95 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Saturday night.
Leonard matched his career-best scoring total for any game, set Jan. 1 against Utah. He made 16 of 22 shots, going 3 of 6 from 3-point range, and went 10 for 11 at the free throw line.
Leonard received a standing ovation when he checked out with 3:14 to play and the Raptors up 107-88.
Kyle Lowry had nine points and eight assists as the Raptors led by as many as 20 en route to their fifth straight postseason victory, extending a franchise record.
Toronto won its 14th consecutive home meeting with Philadelphia and improved to 22-3 against the 76ers since the start of the 2013-14 season. No other opponent has beaten Philadelphia more often over the past five seasons.
Leonard’s previous postseason high was 43, with San Antonio against Memphis on April 22, 2017. He matched that by making a pair of free throws with 4:45 remaining, then topped it by draining a jump shot on Toronto’s next possession.
Tobias Harris had 14 points and 15 rebounds, and JJ Redick scored 17 points for the 76ers, whose four-game playoff winning streak was snapped.
Joel Embiid scored 16 points and Ben Simmons had 14. Jimmy Butler scored 10 points and shot 4 for 12.
Toronto improved to 3-14 in the first game of a playoff series, winning an opener for the first time since a first-round victory against Washington on April 14, 2018.
The only other time Toronto won a playoff series opener was 2001, when Vince Carter’s Raptors won Game 1 of the second round at Philadelphia. Toronto lost that series in seven games.
On Saturday, hot starts from Leonard and Siakam put Toronto in control early, and Lowry fuelled a pivotal 10-0 run in the third quarter that kept the Raptors comfortable.
Toronto didn’t get any points from bench players until Serge Ibaka’s jump shot with 1:57 left in the third. Ibaka’s basket put Toronto up 89-70. The Raptors finished with 10 bench points, seven from Ibaka and three from Fred VanVleet.
Leonard and Siakam both shot 7 of 9 and scored 17 points as Toronto jumped out to a 14-point lead in the first quarter. Down 7-2 early, the Raptors immediately reclaimed the lead with a 9-0 run and went almost eight minutes without missing a shot, hitting on 13 straight from the field. Toronto was up 39-31 after one.
Leonard scored 10 more in the second and the Raptors led 61-52 at halftime.
Redick’s 3-pointer at 8:48 of the third cut it to 68-64, but Lowry scored four points in a 10-0 Toronto run over the next two minutes. The Raptors took a 92-81 lead to the fourth.
Celebrities in the crowd included Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman, Canadian-born Duke basketball star R.J. Barrett, singer Shawn Mendes and actress Elisabeth Moss. No visitor got a bigger welcome, however, than new Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who received a loud ovation when he was shown on the big screen late in the third.