RICHMOND- For years, the Toronto Raptors were looked at as “Barney’s” and “Chokers”.
Now, the Jurassic Park faithful can open its doors to glory as the NBA championship now resides in the north.
Toronto’s 114-110 win in game 6 over the Golden State Warriors brought the NBA title to Toronto for the 1st time ever and the first Canadian Basketball Championship in history.
It was also the last game to ever be played in the Oracle Arena as the Warriors will move into the Chase Center next season.
Kawhi Leonard’s 22 points in Game 6 cemented his status as the MVP of the NBA Finals. Leonard joined rare company by winning finals mvp for two different franchises (2014 with Spurs).
In their last chance to try and win three straight titles, the two time defending champion Warriors focused all their attention on Leonard.
The Raptors took advantage with their two point guards, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet. Lowry finished with 26 while VanVleet scored 22. Pascal Siakam scored 26.
In Games 1-4, the Warriors were faced with the challenge of not having all star Kevin Durant at their disposal as questions arose to whether Durant could return from a calf injury.
Durant did return in Game 5, but tore his Achilles tendon just 14 minutes into the game and was ruled out for the series and possibly played his last game as a Warrior.
In Game 6, already short-handed, the hope of Golden State was shut down as Klay Thompson went down with a knee injury in the third quarter.
Thompson had 30 before his injury. Steph Curry finished with 21 while Draymond Green hit 11. Andre Iguodala finished with 22.
The title was essentially won with 10 seconds left. Danny Green was guarded heavily at midcourt by Draymond Green and lost control, giving the ball back to Golden State with a chance to push the series to 7.
This time however, the larger forces aligned with the Raptors. Curry’s fade-away three-pointer rimmed in and out. Draymond dove on the rebound and called timeout with .9 seconds left. BUT….the Warriors were out of timeouts, resulting in a technical foul.
A Chris Webber moment of defeat. Leonard sank the free throw, ripped out the rest of the clock, and opened the Jurassic Park gates to celebrate.
It was a bold and aggressive move by president Masai Ujiri to trade for Leonard by giving up DeMar DeRozan 11 months ago.
It looks like the gamble has paid off even if Leonard stays or decides to leave in free agency.
How do the Spurs feel now about seeing this run by Leonard after essentially not playing all of the previous year before being traded? To be blunt and to the point, terrible.
This run by the Raptors is among the most remarkable ones in NBA history. They trailed against the Orlando Magic. They trailed against the 76ers and it took a dramatic game winning shot in Game 7 by Leonard to get them over the hump.
They trailed against the Bucks in the conference finals. Three different series and three times falling behind. The Raptors never trailed once they got to the NBA Finals. They tied after 2 games but never fell behind.
Many will say the Warriors dynasty fell with their arena, but in reality, it’s just put on hold. It’ll take a while to recover, but the Warriors will return.
For now, we must all praise the Canadian nation as the trophy makes its first trip north of the border.
Congratulations to the Toronto Raptors, the 2019 NBA Champions.