Golden State fell victim to the opportunistic and relentlessness attack of Kawhi Leonard and Canada’s first NBA Champion.
There were several common themes in an NBA Finals series that was otherwise unpredictable, emotional and gut-wrenching.
The Warriors injury plague, the clutchness of Andre Iguodala and the relentlessness of the Toronto Raptors, who accumulated five consecutive road wins for the first time in NBA playoff history en route to becoming 2019 NBA Champions.
The Warriors veteran, who hit the game-winning shot in Game 2, stepped up in Game 6 and scored 22 points with Klay Thompson playing just three quarters before suffering a freak leg injury.
Golden State’s litany of injuries was a recurring theme for fans who entered the last game in the history of Oracle Arena, still in shock over Kevin Durant’s season-ending Achilles tear.
In the end, Iguodala’s heroics weren’t enough to overcome a Toronto team that stayed consistent in their attack and had three chances to close the series out after going up 3-1.
The game went down to the wire, but when the dust cleared, Toronto was able to secure the first NBA title in franchise history with a thrilling 112-110 series-clinching win over the two-time defending champs.
The Toronto Raptors lost Game 5 of the NBA Finals because of the team’s reliance on the three-pointer. They shot an abysmal 8-for-32 from 3-point range, basically trying to play Golden State’s game and it possibly cost them an NBA title that night.
In Game 6, the Raptors didn’t shy away from the gunslinger mentality and hit 7-of-14 tries in the first quarter, but they also mixed in the two’s as the maligned Kyle Lowery delivered the playoff quarter of his career with 15 points going 4-of-4 from three-point range.
Problem was, Toronto was only leading 33-32 and Golden State was putting in some airmail work as well. The Raptors would have to remain hot like fish grease in order to survive the ghosts of Oracle past.
Lowery finished the half with 21 points, but Toronto was only up 60-57 at intermission, despite 10 turnovers by the Warriors. The first half had 14 lead changes and the teams traded buckets like two heavyweights exchanging bone-shifting body shots.
The rest of the game was much of the same until Golden State’s bad luck with injuries continued near the end of the third quarter. Klay Thompson was fouled by Danny Green going up for a dunk and landed awkwardly.
Thompson shot his free throws and headed to the locker room, trying to get himself right to return. He couldn’t. A torn ACL finished him for the year. News that Klay and his 30 points were lost for the game was the final nail in the coffin. At that point, the game was Toronto’s for the taking.
This has been the Golden State Dynasty’s toughest NBA Finals. The basketball Gods have been more than cruel, but Steve Kerr’s squad kept showing the resilience that earned them three championships in the last four seasons.
It wasn’t anything the Warriors didn’t do. Lowery (26 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds) kept hitting improbable shots. Fred Vanvleet was shooting like Steph Curry in the second half. Leonard was good for an And-1 when needed and Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam (26 points) didn’t stop hitting the boards and getting key putbacks.
The Raptors just refused to lose. Now, the mission is complete and Kawhi Leonard can depart from Canada as a national treasure and the greatest one-year investment in NBA history.