76ers: What Was Jimmy Butler Thinking During Kawhi Leonard's Buzzer-Beater?
The 2018-2019 NBA Playoffs run for the Philadelphia 76ers was a roller coaster of emotions. When the postseason first started, the Sixers were stunned in Game 1 by their first-round opponent, the Brooklyn Nets. But former 76ers guard Jimmy Butler put on an inspiring performance, which must've lit a fire under the young 76ers squad.
So from that point on, the Sixers never looked back and took care of the Nets in the first round with ease. The following series, however, wouldn't be as easy. The 76ers were set to face the Toronto Raptors. Typically, the Raptors are known to struggle in the postseason no matter how good they were during the regular season.
But last year, Toronto had a key factor, which would get them over the hump. The critical factor happened to be Kawhi Leonard. After being embarrassed and eliminated in the second round by the Boston Celtics the previous year, the 76ers wanted to get payback by upsetting Toronto the following postseason -- and they almost did.
Unfortunately, Toronto's key factor flashed his star power at the right time. We all know the story -- and we've seen the still shots of everybody's face during Kawhi Leonard's Game 7 buzzer-beater shot last season. With just seconds left on the clock, the Raptors had time for one more shot. Leonard created just enough space to get his shot off and somehow after multiple bounces -- it went in.
At that moment, what did former 76ers guard Jimmy Butler think as the ball went in? Just as you'd expect. . . "Fu*k."
"The crazy part is, when it hit the rim I was underneath it, and I was like 'this sh*t is going in.'" While Butler was clearly disappointed, he made it clear he did not cry after the Sixers were eliminated by the eventual 2019 NBA Finals winners, the Toronto Raptors.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_