This year's NBA Finals felt like a third of what it could have been. The Golden State Warriors were decimated by injuries in a way they've never been before, and the Toronto Raptors rightly capitalized on it. On Thursday night, Kawhi Leonard and the Raps closed out a wild nail-biter of a game to win the NBA Championship in Game 6, 114-110. It was the last game at Oracle Arena before the Warriors move to San Francisco.
This series' fate was decided when Klay Thompson went down clutching his knee. Replay showed that Thompson landed on his left leg weirdly which resulted in falling down in a heap of pain. It looked like he suffered an ACL injury. His face was grimacing in pain as he squirmed on the floor to find the best position to lay.
He ended up being helped to the locker room but had a brief, triumphant return to shoot his free throws. He stayed on the floor hopping up and down, trying to keep lose and run off adrenaline. But training staff demanded that he go back in the locker room to get it looked at. One could speculate that they didn't want to have a repeat of Kevin Durant.
From there on out the game was an unbelievable mess of a thriller. The Warriors don't have knockdown shooters outside of Steph, so the Raptors just hounded Curry whenever he had any chance of firing a shot. That insane defense carried on into the fourth quarter where the Warriors scrapped admirably into the last three minutes of the game.
The three minute mark was where the Raptors lost themselves in Game 5, so they were determined to not repeat history. It was a neck-and-neck affair with lead changes left and right. Pascal Siakam, Fred Van Vleet, Kyle Lowry, and Kawhi Leonard all made crucial field goals or free throws as we barreled to the home stretch of this do-or-die game for the NBA championship.
With under thirty seconds remaining Siakam made a driving floater to put the Raptors up by three. Then, Steph Curry went to the line for two quick free throws and made both to keep it at a one-point game, 111-110. Then on the next possession, Danny Green threw the ball out of bounds on the Raptors! Despite everything we went through, the Warriors could still win it!
The Warriors convened for their final play and ended up getting a heavily contested Steph three. What followed was a mad scramble of a play that ended with Kawhi getting control of the ball sprinting back to his basket with under a second to play! At the very last moment, he lost the ball and Draymond Green gained control. Then, Green called timeout as he bumbled to the floor - but the Warriors had no timeouts left! That resulted in the Raptors taking a technical free throw for the error and then gaining possession of the ball. A few more formalities were carried out then the Raptors were crowned 2019 NBA Champions.
This is the Raptor's first title in franchise history and the first championship for Toronto in almost thirty years! The people of Toronto are out in the streets celebrating their long-overdue moment of joy. On the other end, the Warriors face a world of uncertainty after everyone basically handed them the championship to start the year. Injuries got in the way of that. Most of the NBA world is fairly certain that the Warriors would've won in five or six games in Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were fully healthy.
Even if Klay played the rest of this game, it might've gone to Game 7. Injuries are part of the game though. Congratulations to the 2019 Toronto Raptors on their first NBA Championship! Now onto the NBA Draft and the crown jewel of the season - NBA Free Agency.
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