Heading into the Sixers' second-round series against the Raptors, the conventional wisdom seemed to be that the Sixers had the more talented starting five but Toronto had the better bench.
Once again, Leonard couldn't do it alone and the Raptors dropped an ugly 116-95 decision to the Philadelphia 76ers.
I picked Toronto to win the series, but I'd be lying if I said I was still confident in that. "As much as we talk about the (star) power both teams have, it's all about making the others take the most contested shots, rebound, not turn the ball over and guard".
"I think the first adjustment, we're going to have to make it, I guess we're going to have to play all of them a lot harder. We don't care how many games we've lost, nothing like that".
It was moments like this why the 76ers endured the painful Process - the years of tanking seasons for high draft picks, like in 2014 when they drafted Embiid with the No. 3 overall pick.
"I thought our defence at the start of the game was nearly as good as it could be", Sixers coach Brett Brown said.
"No. Totally different situation. He was a stud". He knocked down three of his four 3-point attempts in Game 3, with each of his makes coming against Gasol.
The 76ers' other Australian, Jonah Bolden, was scoreless while playing the final five minutes when the game was decided and the starters were rested. "He wasn't going to be quiet this whole series". This was the first victory for the 76ers at Toronto for six years.
Siakam was called for Flagrant 1 on the play.
Game 1 was a display of cold perfection from the Canadian team with sterling performances from Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam, while also using the defensive smarts of Marc Gasol to lock up Joel Embiid and remove the advantage that the Sixers held in the series.
After Lowry almost turned the ball over, Danny Green missed a potential tying 3, and Philadelphia's Tobias Harris came up with the rebound, his 11th. "I've got to help him on the floor", said Lowry of Leonard. He sat for three stints, and Philadelphia cut into Toronto's lead every time. "This game was really important to us".
"I mean, for me it goes straight to the blocks", Brown said when asked what stood out about Embiid's night.
Kawhi Leonard scored 35 points, Siakam had 21 and Lowry 20.
"He played great", said the 2014 NBA Finals MVP. Leonard leads all National Basketball Association players in offensive box plus/minus and win shares per 48 minutes and is second in value over replacement player, win shares and player efficiency rating.
Philadelphia overcame a dominating Game 1 victory by the Raptors and broke a ridiculous 14-game losing streak in Toronto with a Game 2 win. Toronto shot 7 for 24 in the first and missed its first seven from 3-point range before Norm Powell connected.
But with Leonard on the bench to start the fourth quarter, the Sixers went on a 9-0 scoring run to put Thursday's game to bed.
Ennis and Butler each scored seven points in the second and Philadelphia led 51-38 at the half.
Leonard is a matchup nightmare for most opponents because in addition to being 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan - the combination of which allows him to shoot over the top of most wing defenders - he has the strength to bulldoze his way to the basket. Embiid made both free throws as fans - including some of Philadelphia's biggest sports stars - serenaded him with chants of 'MVP!
But the Raptors clawed their way back into contention, cutting their deficit to just one point in the third period and again with 46.7 seconds remaining in the fourth.
Jimmy Butler, the Game 2 standout, dunked off his own steal and the Sixers had quickly put the game out of reach.
"I think "chemistry" is a bad word", Butler said.
Told of his coach's comments, Butler offered a correction. Philadelphia pulled down 52 rebounds compared to only 36 for Toronto.