Kawhi Leonard’s series-ending shot to beat the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 took us on a journey. Four bounces and what felt like 100 years later, the shot fell through the net, giving Toronto a series win.
But not all of those bounces had equal importance. Let’s rank ‘em, by most significant to least significant.
The first game-winning field goal at the buzzer in a Game 7 in #NBAPlayoffs history!@kawhileonard CALLS SERIES in #PhantomCam! #TissotBuzzerBeater #ThisIsYourTime #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/XbiDyYqxK1
— NBA (@NBA) May 13, 2019
1. Third bounce
The angle here is not kind to the Raptors.
The ball is drifting the wrong way, tumbling off the back side of the rim. With normal spin, it’ll skid harmlessly away. On impact, it looks even worse.
But because the ball is spinning backwards, it barely — and I mean barely — catches the inside part of the back rim rather than the outside. That depth, combined with the momentum that came from the second bounce, deadened the ball on the rim like a pinpoint shot from the fairway. This shot doesn’t go in without that third bounce.
Or, maybe a gust of wind did it.
2. First bounce
The only reason Bounce 3 had any chance of saving the day. This is the moment of impact.
How did that ball eventually bounce a second time on the inside of the front rim from that position? It defies the laws of physics.
3. Fourth bounce
Riding the coattails of Bounce 3.
4. Second bounce
Nearly screwed it up before Bounce 3 saved its ass.