Kawhi Leonard has made a lot of history in his first season with the Raptors and here’s another notch in his belt: Leonard became the first player in franchise history to make an NBA all-defensive team when he was named to the second team on Wednesday.
It was Leonard’s fifth selection (three to the first team). He finished seventh in the league in steals and only Leonard and Jimmy Butler had more steals than personal fouls.
He was joined on the second team by Joel Embiid, Draymond Green, Jrue Holiday and Klay Thompson.
Rudy Gobert, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George, Marcus Smart and Eric Bledsoe were voted on to the first team.
Raptors guard Danny Green got the most points through the voting of 100 media members of all players not named to one of the teams (66, more than either Green or Leonard), but voting is done by position and four guards had more points.
Green got 19 first-team votes, eighth amongst all players.
Full disclosure, this corner had a vote and put Green on the first team and left Leonard off either team because of games missed and because we saw Green as having the better defensive season.
PLAYING THROUGH THE PAIN
Danny Green clearly has a lot of respect for his long-time teammate Kawhi Leonard and for Leonard’s dedication to staying on the floor in these playoffs, despite being sore.
“He’s playing through pain, a lot of guys are, but probably him and K-Low are probably playing through the most pain,” Green told a few reporters after Toronto’s series-evening win over Milwaukee after Game 4.
“As you can see, he can’t even celebrate baskets how painful it is. It shows you that he’s fighting. But we’re going to need him. Hopefully, he can get some rest after we win. But we need two more.”
Green didn’t want to re-litigate the mess that was Leonard’s final season in San Antonio when asked if his being on the floor, playing through pain, indicates he would have done that last year if capable.
“It reinforces how serious the injury was because a year later it’s still something he had to manage throughout the year and for good reason,” Green said.
“Now he’s playing a ton of minutes and as you can see some of it still lingers, still coming back. It’s an injury that you have to be very careful with. It shows you that he would fight through it if he could. He’s doing it now.”
Green joked that he and his teammates ask Leonard every day how he is feeling.
“’You a’ight, you good to go? Cool.’ We’re going to need him,” Green said.
“We ask everybody, K-Low with his hand, his thumb. A couple of guys have some injuries. Fred’s (VanVleet) got half an eye, guys got a lot of bumps and bruises during this time. OG’s (Anunoby) missing an appendix.”
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said Wednesday on a conference call that Anunoby remains far off from a return to action.
BUCKS GIVE CREDIT
The Bucks made sure to credit the Raptors after losing Game 4 in Toronto, particularly the Toronto defence.
“Making us play a little one-on-one basketball, forcing us into tough shots. Basically, they were flying around, collapsing the paint,” said Khris Middleton, the only Milwaukee player to have a big offensive game with 30 points on 11-of-30 shooting.
“And scrambling. They did a great job with us defensively.”
Middleton said Milwaukee’s failure to stop Toronto often enough led to issues on the other end because they could not get out and run off of misses or turnovers.
“I feel like for the most part, from top to bottom, all their guys played well,” he said.
Giannis Antetokounmpo also said the Raptors made it tough to score.
“Obviously, they are a great team defensively and help one another closing the driving lanes, getting their hands in the passing lanes and stuff like that but we’ve gotta execute better, we’ve gotta take care of the ball better,” he said.
They’ll get the chance on Thursday.
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