NBA: Ranking the 10 most important games from the last 10 years

NBA former Heat forward LeBron James (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
NBA former Heat forward LeBron James (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images) /
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10. 2019 Eastern Conference Semifinals – Game 7: Raptors vs. 76ers

It’s possible this game will slowly start to fade out of our memories the further removed we get from it, but I’m positive that any basketball fan in the greater Philadelphia area as well as the entire country of Canada will remember this game forever.

Game 7 of the 2019 Eastern Conference Semifinals is, of course, the setting for one of the greatest shots in NBA history. But while Kawhi Leonard’s game-winning jumper sat on the rim for what I’m convinced was five solid minutes, it wasn’t just the series that hung in the balance.

That shot going in became the defining moment of Kawhi Leonard’s career. It helped atone for him being not-so-clutch in the 2013 NBA Finals (we’ll get there), and at the same time buried what might have been the Philadelphia 76ers‘ best chance to win a championship with their current core.

The hypothetical potential of this game and that shot are capped – even if he misses it they still go to overtime and could have still won, leaving NBA history unchanged. But if the 76ers win in overtime it’s a whole different story.

A 76ers win catapults either them or Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks to the NBA Finals for a series with a Golden State Warriors team that was on its last legs. Do the Warriors 3-peat? Does Giannis or Joel Embiid get their first ring and add an NBA Finals MVP to their resumé? We’ll never know, thanks to Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors.