Raptors defeat the Warriors to lift their first NBA championship
The Toronto Raptors downed the Golden State Warriors, 114-110, to win their first ever NBA Championship.
The Raptors won the title in the sixth game of the 2019 NBA Finals. This was their first ever trip to the NBA Finals.
The Raptors had won three of the first four games of the 2019 NBA Finals, before the Warriors got one back in Toronto last time out. In what was the last Warriors home game at the Oracle Arena in Oakland (the Warriors are moving across the bay to San Francisco for the 2019-2020 NBA season), the Raptors registered what can be considered the biggest win in the franchise’s history.
Injuries had a part to play in the Warriors’ loss
Warriors superstar, Kevin Durant, went out with an Achilles tear in Game 5. He had sustained an injury during the Western Conference finals against the Portland Trailblazers. He returned for Game 5 of the NBA Finals but left the court injured. As per Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Durant is set to miss the entire 2019-2020 NBA season.
The second significant injury in today’s game was that of Klay Thompson. The Warriors guard had been torching the Raptors before he went down before the fourth quarter. Klay was the Warriors’ highest scorer in the loss, putting up 30 points on the board. Thompson had shot eight off 12 from the field before his departure.
He had his Willis Reed moment though, returning to shoot free throws minutes after going down on a foul from Danny Green.
Fred VanVleet comes up big in the clutch moment
Fred VanVleet had a monster game, coming off the bench. He put in 22 points, shooting six off 14 from the field. Five of his field goals were three pointers as VanVleet went five off 11 from deep. He was also perfect from the free-throw line, getting points on each of his five free throws.
His biggest moment came in the fourth quarter. At the 3:47 mark, with the scores at 101 apiece, VanVleet evaded Quinn Cook to drill in a step-back three. The Raptors did not relinquish their lead after that match. The importance of that VanVleet dagger cannot be overstated.
A team effort sees the Raptors through
Even though Kawhi Leonard was the best player for the Raptors this season, it was a team effort that saw them through.
Leonard had a relatively quiet night, scoring 22 points. In addition to that, he grabbed six rebounds and dished out three assists. Both Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam outscored him, scoring 26 points each. Lowry’s defense and playmaking were also of the highest order as he amassed three steals and gave 10 assists.
Kawhi Leonard makes history
Leonard was the Raptors’ bonafide star throughout the Playoffs and was duly won the Bill Russell Award NBA Finals MVP award.
It was a near-unanimous choice as 10 out of 11 voters named Leonard as their choice for MVP. Only Hubie Brown, former New York Knicks head coach, voted for VanVleet.
This was also the second time that Leonard was part of a team that prevented the opposition from completing a three-peat of NBA championships. He did this previously in the 2014 NBA Finals as part of the San Antonio Spurs when they prevented the LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh led Miami Heat from winning a third straight championship. Leonard was named the Finals MVP in that year as well.
Finally, Leonard became the first man to win the NBA Finals MVP award from each NBA Conference. He was part of the Western Conference in 2014 and this time out, he represented the Eastern Conference.
It was a historic night for both Leonard and his franchise, as the Raptors became the first Canadian team to win the NBA championship. This was a season that the Raptors team, management and fans will never forget.
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