The entire NBA season came to a climax on Thursday night with the Toronto Raptors besting the Golden State Warriors in a best of seven series, 4-2. Something I am sure not even the largest of Raptors fans could have believed before the season started. However, that is exactly what the Raptors would have wanted. Ever since Kawhi Leonard touched down in Canada, the Raptors have embodied the Klaw’s personality.
In a video that emerged after game 4, the Raptors team had just swept the Warriors at Oracle 2-0 to take a commanding 3-1 series lead, however, there was no cheering, celebrations or any loss of focus at all. The Raptors were locked in. Silent assassins following in the footsteps of their leader- Kawhi Leonard.
Kawhi cemented one of the greatest playoff runs in NBA history. King-slayer Kawhi has laid to rest to another dynasty. Leonard now joins LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players to have won a Finals MVP with separate teams. Suitable company.
As well as Kawhi, Kyle Lowry set the tone and dominated early in game 6. Pascal Siakam consistently hit his threes. Although Marc Gasol ended the game with 3 points 0-5 shooting, his veteran presence and all around play rebounding, passing and calmness was everything Toronto needed. Fred VanVleet even gained a Finals MVP vote from Hubie Brown for his defence on Steph Curry and his shooting from beyond the arc.
The Raptors were just champions. Outside of a minor 3rd quarter blip in game 3, the Raptors dominated this series. If we’re honest, this series should have been done in 5 games, if we’re brutally honest, it should have been done in 4.
Whilst they bask in the glow of glory, Raptors fans cannot help but have one eye on the future. If Kawhi remains, the Raptors must be odds on favourites to repeat next season. If he leaves… well, that is a conversation for another time.
While the Raptors future seems to be up in the air, the same applies to the Warriors. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson will miss the entire regular season of 2019/2020, Durant entering free agency with a ruptured Achilles and Thompson, also entering free agency, with a torn ACL.
Whereas it is certain Klay will return, he will be unavailable to the Warriors for all of next season. Klay’s performances in these Finals was heroic. Whenever Curry was double-teamed or muscled out of the game or simply just not performing, Klay would put the Warriors on his back offensively and seem unstoppable at times. In games 5 and 6, Klay scored 26 and 30 points with 53% 3pt percentage in game 5 and 66% in game 6.
Golden State literally gave their all and in the end it wasn’t enough. Injuries are part of the game. A lack of shooters eventually came back to bite them. Kawhi and the Raptors took advantage and ultimately succeeded using the effective method of chilled chaos. Now, whatever the future holds for Kawhi and the Raptors, Canada can enjoy this and will enjoy this forever.
The Toronto Raptors are NBA Champions.