If Toronto wins Game 5, Golden State needs to ask some hard questions.
All dynasties eventually fall and The Golden State Warriors have run out of gas and blown an engine and transmission. The NBA Finals should be over tonight with a Raptors securing the first NBA title in franchise history.
Dub Nation has enjoyed a run that few teams in NBA history can match. Three titles in four years, a record 73-win season and a bevy of transcending players who are among the best to ever do it. They have players with immortal nicknames like “Splash Brothers” and “Chef” and “Iggy” and “Boogie” and Easy Money Sniper.”
They made Oakland the new Hollywood for a hot minute. In this age of free agency and player empowerment, it’s hard to keep a winning nucleus together long enough to have the success that Steve Kerr and Co. have enjoyed.
Props to them. But after Golden State falls to Toronto in this series, the Warriors face an offseason of major decisions involving Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Boogie Cousins. We could see a significantly different looking Warriors squad in 2020.
The writing is all over the wall.
Golden State’s been fortunate in that their “Big Three” original stars (Steph, Klay, Draymond) were all products of the NBA Draft and already achieved championship success before Golden State pouring it on by adding KD and Cousins.
Golden State winning a third-straight NBA Championship was a foregone conclusion back in January. But that’s why we play the season and the unpredictability of sports has a funny way of always flipping the narrative when we least expect it.
The Warriors were used to having the upper hand. Just being flat out more talented than the opposition. For the first time, that’s not the case and Toronto has capitalized on Golden State’s injuries and is on the cusp of doing what most everybody saw as the impossible
Every fan of every NBA team, no matter how miserable or mighty have are overly optimistic at the beginning of a season. But when Masai Ujiri was able to coral Kawhi, sentiments began to change about Toronto’s chances to win the East and advance to the Finals.
At the time, people were still riding the Celtics bandwagon, but that eventually fell apart and the Raptors grew stronger under first-year head coach Nick Nurse.
When the scales of power are tipped so mightily in your favor, sometimes all it takes is a few key losses to tilt the scales in another direction. You don’t feel bad for Golden State or even make injury excuses at this point.
Toronto has played the hand they were dealt with perfection and now they are up 3-1 in the 2019 NBA Finals and ready to reap the fruits of their labor.
By all accounts, the series appears to be over. Golden State is still dragging this thing out, but it’s pretty clear that we won’t see Kevin Durant at 100 percent, even if he does return tonight.
Injuries aside, all anyone will remember is that Kawhi Leonard won rings as the man on two different squads. the Spurs were loaded, but Toronto had a superstar and a half at best. LeBron is the last superstar I can remember to accomplish that feat.
He was the definition of a one-man wrecking crew this postseason. He elevated the players around him to a higher level and that’s something we haven’t seen any player do in a long time. He didn’t complain about needing better players around him or dump blame on his teammates when times were hard.
Leonard’s also going to get his second Finals MVP and the first NBA title in history for the country of Canada.
Then he’s going to bounce. It’s a bittersweet reality, but true. The title doesn’t change his plans.
For now, however, Toronto has a chance to seize its moment in history. There’s no reason for them to lose Game 5. Golden State is done. The basketball Gods have spoken. The talent, hard work, execution and egoless comradery that the Raptors have exhibited this season is a refreshing change from the soap opera and primadonna-driven roller coaster that was the 2019 Golden State Warriors.