Raptors have no superstars, except for their defence – The Athletic

Before Kawhi Leonard missed a free throw during last year’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Jimmy Butler tied the score and Leonard made a fairly difficult shot as he faded away from the basket, there was just the suffocating defence. The official play-by-play says that the Raptors forced the Philadelphia 76ers into just one 24-second shot clock violation from the three-minute mark to the one-minute mark of the fourth quarter. It might as well have been three.

Officially, Marc Gasol blocked a Butler 3-pointer on the second of the three possessions, while Kyle Lowry picked off a pass that led to a Pascal Siakam layup. Both defensive plays happened as the 76ers desperately tried to get a shot, any shot, off before the buzzer. It was evidence of why the shot clock is occasionally referred to as the sixth defender.

If the Raptors were ever going to have a chance to do similar damage this season without Leonard, it was going to take that type of defence.

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