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Kawhi Leonard 2019: Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, James Ennis Expected to Guard the Claw in Upcoming Series
Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors are heading to the Eastern Conference semifinals after decimating the Orlando Magic 4-1 in their playoff series. Game five was pretty much a done deal from the get-go with the score being 31-7 less than three minutes left in the first quarter.
After that, the Magic was playing catchup the whole time; the match ending on a one-sided 115-96. Of course, Kawhi Leonard was the major culprit for the Magic’s loss having scored 27 points, grabbed seven rounds, and dished out 2 assists on an 8-11 FG and 5/5 beyond the arc.
Unsurprisingly, Pascal Siakam was the second winning factor for the Raptors, contributing 24 points, six rebounds, and four assists. While the team’s recent series victory was impressive, their next opponent is nothing to sneeze at. Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors are set to take on the stacked Philadelphia Sixers, and discussions are already underway who’s going to guard The Claw. Ben Simmons is the top name that has emerged in this narrative, although Sixers coach Brett Brown said they would have several guys rotating to slow down the 27-year-old.
“We have the ability to have multiple people guard Kawhi [Leonard]. So it will be wrong to assume that is [Simmons’] matchup for the series,” Brown said.
James Ennis is probably one of those candidate given the six-foot-seven has a history of guarding Kawhi Leonard as the two met during the former’s stint with the San Antonio Spurs. Ennis said that guarding Leonard on pick-and-roll plays will be significant in how the series will turn out.
Another Sixers that also might also be paired against Kawhi Leonard is Jimmy Butler. Butler’s tough defense has already been seen in their series with the Brooklyn Nets where it resulted in an ejection after melee took place involving Nets forward Jared Dudley. Whatever the case, Raptors versus the Sixers will be one exciting series to follow, especially since there’s no one in the formers’ roster to stop Joel Embiid.