When the Toronto Raptors acquired Kawhi Leonard, fans didn’t know what to think.
It was tough to see a crowd favourite in DeMar DeRozan walk out the door – particularly given how he felt about the city of Toronto. But now that the dust has settled, Raptors fans were eager to welcome Kawhi with open arms in the first game of the season on Wednesday.
Playing his first regular-season game in nine months, Leonard wasn’t perfect, but looked good, scoring 24 points and adding 12 rebounds in a 116-104 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
— NBA (@NBA) October 18, 2018
Fans gave Kawhi a loud ovation during the player intros, and was received well by the hometown crowd throughout the game.
It didn’t go unnoticed. Kawhi felt the love.
"I loved it"
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 18, 2018
“I thought it was great,” Leonard told TSN’s Kate Beirness. “[Raptors fans] had great energy tonight, they made a good push for us in the fourth quarter when we didn’t have no energy. I loved it tonight, coming out here and playing, and seeing all the love and support.”
With the season-opener out of the way, the Raptors are now focusing on a potential Eastern Conference Final preview, against the powerhouse Boston Celtics at home on Friday.
Kawhi looked good in his @Raptors debut
24 PTS | 13 REBS pic.twitter.com/bs8ZY1ukEP
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 18, 2018