Toronto Raptors win first-ever NBA title
The Toronto Raptors made history on Thursday night, as they dethroned the Golden State Warriors and won the franchise’s first-ever NBA championship.
The Raptors surged past Golden State in the final few minutes of the game, ending the neck-and-neck matchup at 114-110. Chants of “We the North!” could be heard inside Oracle Arena as the Raptors hoisted the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy and waved a Canadian flag in the centre of the court. The celebrations were wild back in Toronto.
Fred VanVleet gave the Raptors the lead for good on a three-pointer with 3:46 remaining. As the Raptors took advantage of another serious Golden State injury to reward Canada with its first ever NBA championship.
Meanwhile, Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry scored 26 points each. VanVleet and Kawhi Leonard added 22 apiece in a balanced attack that allowed Toronto to win on Golden State’s home floor for the third consecutive time en route to a 4-2 win in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.
However, Golden State put up a valiant effort in their last game at Oracle Arena without Kevin Durant. Durant had ruptured his right Achilles tendon in Game 5, and for the final 14:22 without Klay Thompson. Thompson scored 30 points before sustaining a left knee injury later in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, the game was tied three times in the fourth quarter. Before VanVleet buried his fifth three-pointer of the game for a 104-101 Raptors advantage.
The Raptors went on to lead by as many as six before a three-pointer by Draymond Green cut the deficit. Allowing the Warriors to rally within one point with under 20 seconds remaining.
The Warriors then forced a Toronto turnover on a bad pass from Danny Green with 9.6 seconds to go. However, Steph Curry misfired on a three-point attempt. And, after a scramble for the ball, the Warriors were pulled up on a technical foul for calling a timeout with 0.9 seconds remaining when they had none left.
Leonard made it a two-point game by making the free throw. Before then adding two more after getting fouled on the inbounds pass to secure the Raptors third road win in the series. No team had accomplished that feat since the LA Lakers back in 2001.
Leonard was rightly chosen as the Finals MVP. However, he heads into free agency this summer. He said postgame, “I’m going to enjoy this with my team-mates and coaches, and I’ll think about that later.”
The last five games of the series were won by the road team; the longest streak of road victories in a single Finals.
Meanwhile, Siakam had 10 rebounds and Lowry had 10 assists to complete double-double performances for Toronto. The Raptors outscored the Warriors 39-33 on three-pointers. Also, Serge Ibaka was the fifth Raptor in double figures with 15.
Andre Iguodala recorded 22 points and Curry had 21 for Golden State. While Draymond Green recorded a second straight triple-double with 11 points, 19 rebounds and 13 assists.
The Warriors managed to take an 88-86 lead into the final period despite losing Thompson with over two minutes remaining in the third on a dunk attempt on which he was bumped by Danny Green.
Thompson had his left knee buckle upon landing. He immediately fell to the floor in serious pain.
After initially heading to the locker room, Thompson returned to the court to make two free throws, which put the Warriors up 85-80 before Golden State took an intentional foul so that he would leave the game. He never returned.
A tightly contested first half featured 21 points by Lowry and 9-for-18 shooting on three-pointers by the Raptors, but also 14 lead changes and just a 60-57 Toronto lead.
Everybody can sit back and enjoy the summer now: The Raptors are champions.