Raptors Dethrone Injured Warriors, Win First Title
The Toronto Raptors captured the franchise’s first NBA championship on Thursday night by defeating the Golden State Warriors 114-110. The win marked Canada’s first major title in 26 years, and the first time the NBA champion will reside outside of the United States.
The last basketball game on Oracle Arena provided the backdrop for an emotional scene and a revved-up fanbase looking for the Warriors to push the series to a seventh game. The Warriors provided a gold rally towel reading FOR OAK on one line, and LAND on the next with the K and D lined up in white — the initials of the injured Kevin Durant.
The game turned out to become a heavyweight fight with multiple lead changes and neither team able to separate from the other.
The Raptors were led by longtime Raptor Kyle Lowry who scored the game’s first eight points and finished the game with a double-double, 26 points, and ten assists. Lowry started the game 4-for-4 from behind the arch.
The Raptors depth and ability to receive a strong effort from a different source proved too much for the two-time defending champions. The Raptors, along with Lowry had three other players score more than 20 points. Pascal Siakam who was quiet since Game 1 tied Lowry with a team-high 26. Fred VanVleet again proved resourceful off the bench going 5-for-11 from the three-point line and scoring 22 points.
Kawhi Leonard scored 22 points and took home NBA Finals MVP honors. Leonard became only the second player in NBA Finals history to win the MVP with two different clubs the others being Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Lebron James.
The Warriors received a strong performance from Klay Thompson who scored 30 points before having to leave the game due to injury. Thompson injured his knee on after driving to the basket where Danny Green fouled him late in the third quarter.
The foul cause Thompson suspended in mid-air to come down with all his weight on one leg. The leg buckled, and he stayed down for several minutes. Thompson had to be helped off the court only to return a moment later to shoot his free throws before leaving the game again for good. Thompson left the arena on crutches, and the Warriors realized their worst fears an MRI confirmed he tore his ACL on the play.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr summed up the feeling of the team after the game. Kerr said, “More than the what-ifs is just feeling bad for the players involved. Injuries are always part of the NBA season — any professional sport, injuries play a huge role.”
The Warriors will go into the offseason and into next season with many questions concerning now, both Durant and Thompson will be out of the lineup indefinitely and may not return for the 2019-2020 season.
Stephen Curry finished the game with 21 points but was only 6-for-17 from the field. Curry played 42 minutes but never found his grove in the game. Curry after the game said, “This five-year run’s been awesome, but I definitely don’t think it’s over.”
The Warriors received 22 points from veteran Andre Iguodala and another stellar performance from Draymond Green who delivered another triple-double in these playoffs. Green totaled 11 points, 19 rebounds, 13 assists, three steals, and two blocks in 44 minutes.
Green’s sixth triple-double of the playoffs leaves him third all-time behind Magic Johnson (30), LeBron James (23), and Jason Kidd (11).
The Warriors were down one late, but Curry missed a contested 3-pointer in the final seconds. Golden State called a timeout when they were out of timeouts after Green recovered the rebound after a mad scramble. The timeout led to a technical free throw and the Raptors receiving the ball after. Leonard made the free throw with 0.9 seconds left on the clock and then made two more after being fouled by Iguodala on the subsequent inbound play. The free throws put Toronto up by four and ended any chance the Warriors had to win the game.
The scene in Toronto was joyous as fans flowed into the streets screaming and honking horns after the final buzzer. The Raptors made a bold move in the off-season trading for Kawhi Leonard, and the trade proved intelligent as the Raptors who toiled in the playoffs with Lowry, and DeMar DeRozan has reached the summit.
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