OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — There was a moment, not long before the postseason started, when Toronto coach Nick Nurse learned all that he really needed to know about Kawhi Leonard and what makes the man of few words tick.
The conversation was about the 82-game regular season.
Leonard shrugged and described those games as “just practice.”
“That’s when I knew,” Nurse said, “that this guy has another gear that he was going to get to.”
Everyone knows that now — or at least, everyone should be reminded of that now. Leonard was the NBA Finals MVP in 2014 and looks very much like the soon-to-be NBA Finals MVP in 2019. He is at the top of his game and has shown that not only is he over the leg ailment that cost him basically all of last season but that he might just be better than ever.
They call Leonard “the King of the North” in Toronto now, and on Monday night that title might expand to cover the entire NBA as well. Leonard is on the cusp of a second championship and possibly ending a second era. The Raptors lead the Golden State Warriors 3-1 in the NBA Finals and Toronto plays host to a potentially championship-clinching Game 5 on Monday night.
“It’s not over yet,” Leonard said.