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Raptors following Leonard's ability to stay cool under pressure

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TORONTO – Not too high, not too low. Even-keeled. Next play.

When the 2018-19 Toronto Raptors are remembered – regardless of whether it’s as NBA champions or witness to the Golden State Warriors fourth championship in five years – their collective demeanour will figure prominently in the reviews.

Man for man they seem to have perfected the art of managing their emotional and mental state in a way that’s sustainable over, say, a two-month long post-season.

Kyle Lowry has spent his entire career wearing his emotions on his sleeve. And while during his seven years as a Raptor he’s come miles from the frustrated young point guard who could only express his feelings in anger, the steadiness Lowry’s mainly exhibited this season is a new standard.

But Lowry is just going with the flow this year and this post-season. The Raptors are team chill:

“I mean, it’s pretty crazy that it’s a team that everyone just kind of is staying the same way,” Lowry says. “We have been preaching it all year, so it kind of just became contagious. Most guys’ personalities are just even-keeled off the court. On the court, we’ve got some fiery guys. But off the floor, we have some grown men, people with families and kids. They understand that their profession is their lives. That’s what they do. [Off the floor] they take care of their families, their friends, their bodies. They’re professional.”

But even in that context Kawhi Leonard stands apart and not only because he’s averaging 30.7 points and 8.8 rebounds and 50.1 per cent shooting over 20 playoff starts.

The former San Antonio Spur is leading the Raptors on the court with his play but his unblinking expression regardless of circumstance has made itself felt too. Does........

© Sportsnet