Reporters have tried all season to induce a word or sign of intent, with no success. His teammate Serge Ibaka was the latest to pop the question when he recently had Leonard as a guest on a cooking show he hosts
“Bro, are you coming back?” Ibaka asked, out of the blue.
“What kind of question is that?” Leonard said.
After Ibaka offered to ask it again, in Spanish, Leonard brushed it off, saying, “We’ll see after the season is up.”
For everyone’s sake, better to live in the moment, keep 2019 hope alive. Reflecting the urgency of a classic series swing game, the talented forward Pascal Siakam was in the starting lineup despite being listed as doubtful with a calf injury. Lowry, as promised, came out aggressive, looking for his shot. The Raptors never trailed in the first half, contesting the paint far better than they did in Game 3 and holding their own on the boards.
The lead seesawed during the second half, as Jimmy Butler and J. J. Redick compensated for Embiid’s lethargy, settling for setting high screens or trying to locate the cutters. It was still anyone’s game at 91-90 when Leonard, dribbling left to right, rose to shoot from 26 feet, recalling a similar regular-season situation against Houston, when his shot came up short.
“Get it up high, at least to the back rim,” he said.
Still in the moment, Leonard pulled the Raptors back from what might have been the edge of their season and himself from having to begin confronting his decision. His reward is getting to think no further than Game 5, on Tuesday night, in the Canadian city he currently calls home.