On a historic night, the Toronto Raptors won their first NBA title yesterday. Entering the game they were seeking to win their first championship as they faced the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. On one hand, the Raptors missed out on a golden opportunity when they dropped Game 5 and allowed the Warriors to trim the series deficit to 3-2.
On the other hand, the Raptors were still in the driver’s seat having three two more chances to win a single game. With Kevin Durant no longer in the mix, the Raptors were sure to defeat the Warriors in Game 6, right?
Well, with the Warriors playing their last home game at Oracle Arena, they weren’t going down without a fight. In fact, during the first half, a nip-and-tuck battle ensued between the two teams. But the Raptors managed to take a slim 60-57 lead into the break.
True to their championship DNA, the Warriors stepped up their performance in the third period. And as a result, they outscored the Raptors 31-26 to take a two-point lead into the final frame. Unfortunately, the defending champs suffered yet another blow. Sharpshooter Klay Thompson sustained a knee injury at the 2:22 mark. And while Thompson returned momentarily to shoot the free throws, he eventually exited the game for good, leaving a short-handed Warriors squad even more depleted.
As was the case for most of the evening, the teams continued to battle back and forth in the fourth quarter. With the Raptors leading by a point (111-110) in the game’s waning moments, Stephen Curry missed a 3-pointer from the right wing. Then, Draymond Green finally grabbed the loose rebound and called a time out. However, the Warriors didn’t have any time outs remaining, which resulted in a technical foul.
Consequently, Leonard converted the free throw, giving the Raptors a 112-110 lead. Then, on the ensuing possession, the Warriors committed a foul on the inbounds play. As a result, Leonard converted the free throws, allowing the Raptors to defeat the Warriors 114-110 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
Even more importantly, the Toronto Raptors win their first NBA title on the heels of taking all three road games at Oracle Arena in this series. Thompson led the Warriors with 30 points prior to departing with the knee injury. And fellow Splash Brother, Stephen Curry, scored 21 points but shot just 6-for-17 and 3-for-11 from downtown.
Meanwhile, the Raptors got several notable performances. First of all, Kyle Lowry scored 26 points to go along with 10 assists and seven rebounds. Secondly, Pascal Siakam posted a double-double with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Furthermore, super-sub Fred VanVleet came off the bench to score 22 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter.
It is also worth mentioning that the team’s leading scorer, Kawhi Leonard, chipped in with 22 points as well. As they have done a few times during these playoffs, the Raptors found a way to win even without Leonard having a virtuoso performance. This balanced attack, along with the ability to stay focused in a hostile environment, is just one of the reasons why the Toronto Raptors won the NBA title.
All in all, after years of postseason failures, the Raptors are now NBA champions. And although the win came against a short-handed Warriors squad, the Raptors are deserving of what they accomplished. In contrast, the Warriors have nothing to hang their heads about having won three titles in the last five seasons.
However, one gets the sense they’d be hanging another championship banner in the rafters had they been at full strength. In other words, instead of becoming the first team to three peat since the 2000-02 Lakers, the Warriors are left to ponder what might have been.