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Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard says he’s not into ‘hero basketball’

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard, as he’s been so many times throughout this epic ongoing playoff run, was the catalyst behind the Toronto Raptors’ victory on Friday night. Despite likely being just one more win over the Golden State Warriors away from earning his second NBA Finals MVP award, though, Leonard insists he’s always trying to lead his team to victory rather than chase individual glory.

“I don’t play hero basketball. I’m not playing for fans,” he told ESPN’s Doris Burke after Toronto’s 105-92 win on Friday night. “I’m just playing to win. I’m not out here trying to break records. As long as I try to help my team win, I’m satisfied with it.”

Leonard was the best player on the floor in Game 4, and it wasn’t particularly close. Following a relatively quiet first half in which he let the game come to him, Leonard came out like gangbusters after intermission, scoring 22 of his game-high 36 points in the second half, including back-to-back threes in the opening seconds of the third quarter that gave Toronto a lead. He shot 11-of-22 from the field, 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, and 9-of-9 at the free throw line, adding 12 rebounds and four steals.

Leonard, relatively quiet early against Golden State, is now averaging 30.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.0 steals per game on scorching 65.3 percent true shooting in the Finals. Those standout numbers are right in line with the statistics he’s put up throughout the postseason, when the 2014 Finals MVP has staked his claim as the best player in the world.

We’ll see if Leonard’s able to do it again in Game 5, leading Toronto to its first title in franchise history.