One year on: Toronto Raptors win historic NBA title

The Raptors failed to clinch the NBA title in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals. Toronto and Golden State now head to Oakland for game 6. Toronto leads the series 3-2. A win for the Raptors secures a first title in their 25-year history. A Warriors win keeps the series alive and forces a Game 7 in Toronto.

A wall of yellow greets the players as a vocal Golden State crowd break into a chorus of ‘Warriors’ chants. This marks the last game at the Oracle Arena, as the curtain comes down on 47 years of Warriors basketball in Oakland, as Golden State move to a new arena in San Francisco.

The Raptors are wearing their red ‘earned’ jerseys, which they have worn in their previous two finals victories in the Oracle. The Warriors are donning their dark grey ‘statement’ jerseys.

Starting lineups:

Toronto -- Lowry, Green, Leonard, Siakam, Gasol.

Golden State – Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Green, Looney.

First quarter

Raps win the tip and with it, the first possession, Lowry makes the first bucket, driving past Looney for a layup, to take an early 2-0 lead.

Lowry comes out firing, with a personal 8-0 run, draining consecutive threes, as the Raptors defence begins the game locked in. Pockets of Toronto fans can be heard chanting ‘Let’s go Raptors’ in response to their teams fast start.


The Warriors get their first points with a Looney dunk. However, Lowry responds immediately with another three. Raptors lead 11-2 after the first 2 minutes of play.

Siakam announces his arrival in Game 6, hitting 2 threes in a row and throwing down an alley-oop dunk, from a Leonard assist, to maintain the Raptors lead -- now 7 points at 19-12, as the halfway point of an intense first quarter approaches.

Klay Thompson heats up, hitting 2 threes. Fred VanVleet responds for Toronto with a three of his own, before the Warriors take the lead for the first time, as Draymond Green hits a two-point jump shot. Golden State fighting back with a 12-4 run, now lead 26-27. The Raptors offence stumbling as Steve Kerr goes with a zone defence.

Kawhi Leonard shows why he is the best two-way player in the NBA, swatting away a Steph Curry layup attempt, then gets a bucket of his own, to put the Raps up by 3, they lead 33-30.

After a compelling, offence heavy first quarter, the Raptors lead by 1, with the score at 33-32. Kyle Lowry the catalyst for the Raptors offense, hitting 4 threes on his way to 15 points. However, the Raptors are struggling with rebounds, as the Warriors are plus 5 on the glass.

Second quarter

The action does not let up, as the opening stages of the second quarter see the Raps and Warriors trading buckets, and the lead. Toronto continue to struggle defending the paint, as they look to nullify the three-point threat of the Splash Brothers. Cousins is having a positive impact offensively for Golden State.

Siakam and VanVleet hit consecutive threes, as the Raptors go on the first meaningful run of the quarter, taking a 43-38 lead. That run is short lived, as the Raps endure a scoring drought of over 2 minutes, as the Warriors respond with their own 6-0 run, to force a Nurse timeout. VanVleet, Gasol, Siakam and Leonard, all missing shots, with Gasol also turning the ball over twice, during that drought, as the Raptors look laboured for the first time, as they trail 43-44.

Leonard halts the Warriors run, with a pull up jump shot. Siakam then follows up with a fast breakaway layup, to re-take the lead for the Raps, as the breathless pace of the game continues. Toronto back up by one, leading 47-46, with 4.15 minutes left in the second quarter.

Ibaka begins to be a presence in the offensive paint. Consecutive Ibaka blow bys against McKinnie, see McKinnie taken out the game by Kerr. Raptors maintain a lead of 53-51, with halftime 2.05 minutes away.

Toronto go into half time leading 60-57. An exhilarating half of basketball, which sees the lead change 14 times.

Third quarter

VanVleet opens the scoring in the third quarter as he continues his resurgence in form, after the birth of his son, as the two teams continue to trade blows. Leonard shows toughness by fighting through heavy contact, while driving to the hoop, to make the ‘and-one’ layup. He makes the free throw, as the Raptors lead increases to 6, the score 72-66.

Curry and Iguodala lead a Golden State fight back with a three each, shortly before Thompson ties the game. 76-76. Iguodala makes a jump shot, to give the Warriors the lead. It is now a 12-4 GSW run, over a 3.30 minute. Warriors up by 2. 78-76.

Again, Kawhi steps up to end a Warrior run, with another ‘and one’, after an assist by Ibaka, to Klaw the Raps within 1 point, with less than 4 minutes to go in the third. Warriors still lead, 79-80.

Thompson makes another three, to take his point haul to 28 points. Golden State now leading 79-83.

With 2.22 minutes remaining in the third, with the score at 80-83, it looks like Curry and Thompson were about to take over the game, Danny Green contests a Thompson layup. Thompson lands awkwardly and appears to twist his knee. He heads to the locker room. A nasty looking injury.

The referees check the replay and award a common foul. Green made an honest basketball play. Thompson emerges from the locker room to a rapturous applause. Thompson needed to attempt the free throws, otherwise he would not have been able to return to the game. He makes both free throws to give the Warriors the 85-80 lead, but leaves for the locker room, for a second time. Thompson’s game is over.

With Thompson now out the game, Nurse goes to a ‘box and one’ defence, with Green, and then Powell, on Curry. However, this does not stop Iguodala hitting a three to restore the five-point advantage, with less than 1 minute to go in the third.

The Raptors thought they ended the third quarter with a 5-0 run, however the Leonard buzzer beating tip in, was taken away upon review. He did not get the shot off in time. Golden State lead by 2 to start the fourth quarter, with the score 88-86.

Can the Raptors take advantage of Thompson’s absence, as they look to cease back the initiative? Their failure to capitalise on Durant’s absence, in Game 5, cost them the chance of winning the title on their own court.

Fourth quarter

Lowry sparks Toronto back to life, with a steal, after a Powell turnover, he gives the ball to Ibaka, who makes the floating jump shot. With the Raps down by 1 point, VanVleet hits a huge three, after accepting a Gasol screen, to level the game at 91-91. Kerr calls a timeout, with 9.06 minutes remaining.

With the contest evenly poised, VanVleet hits another timely three, to inch the Raptors ahead, however the Warriors respond with two quick buckets, as the lead continues to swap regularly, during a topsy-turvy match. Warriors now leading 94-97, with 7.08 minutes left.

VanVleet continues his fourth quarter dominance, as he is fouled attempting a three-point shot, and hits all 3 free throws, to tie the game 99-99. He then sparks a Raptors run, when he drills another three, which forces another Kerr timeout. Toronto lead by 3, with less than 4 minutes to go. The game in the balance at 104-101.

Ibaka gets a put back bucket, after gathering a rebound from a missed three-point attempt by VanVleet, to extend the Raptor lead to 5. A 7-0 run. Less than 3 minutes left. They have a hand on the Larry OB, thanks to VanVleet’s three-point barrage. 106-101.

As reigning champions Golden State never know when they are beaten. They fight back to within 1 point, thanks to a Green three, Cousins splitting a pair of free throws, and then making a layup. Toronto time out. 37.7 seconds left. 109-108.

Out of the time out, Lowry hands the ball to Siakam, who euro steps his way to the cup for a layup and his 26th point of the night. It is also Lowry’s 10th assist, to go with his 26 points. The Raptors lead by 3 points. 26.5 seconds remaining.  111-108.

The next possession sees Curry fouled and sent to the free throw line. He duly makes both attempts. 18.5 seconds left. 111-110. Toronto call their final time out. The Golden State crowd sound out their ‘Warriors’ war cry, as a compelling game of basketball reaches its epic conclusion.

The ball is thrown towards the Toronto back court into the hands Kawhi Leonard, as the Raptors look to eat up as much clock as they can. However, the ball is turned over by Danny Green, as he attempts to pass to Siakam. The 12th Raptors turnover. Golden State ball. Steve Kerr take his remaining timeout. The ball is advanced up the court. 9.6 seconds left. Still 111-110

Iguodala to inbound. He passes cross-court to Green, who passes to Curry. Curry launches a three. It ricochets off the rim. Leonard wins the ball, momentarily. A scramble for possession unfolds. The ball falls to Draymond Green, on the halfway line. Green inadvertently calls a timeout. Technical foul, as Warriors have no timeouts left. 0.9 seconds remain. Technical free throw. Kawhi steps up to the line. He sinks the free throw. Raps up by 2, with the score at 112-110, and possession of the ball. Lowry to inbound.

Lowry lobs the ball to Leonard, who makes the basket. Whistle. The clock shows 0.0 seconds.  Canada holds its breath. Agonisingly, the basket will not count. The clock is reset to 0.9, as Leonard was fouled prior to catching the ball. Leonard heads back to the line to shoot 2 more free throws. He makes both. 114-110. There is only time left for Curry to throw up a desperation three. The buzzer sounds.

Canada -- the NBA title is yours.

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