There are not many people who missed out on watching game five, with a chance to see a combination of history and the end of a dynasty. The Warriors were one loss from being denied a three-peat, while the Raptors deliver a championship in their first ever appearance, to their loud and passionate fanbase. But, what happened in game five not only had us standing up yelling in excitement down the stretch, it was an emotional rollercoaster.
Kevin Durant worked his tail off to get back to play in this game, though many questioned how fresh he might be. KD knocked down three triples in the opening quarter and had been shooting the ball extremely well. But then, going iso against Serge Ibaka, Durant went down, and it looked like he may have torn his Achilles. There was never much doubt he’d play in this game, his first since game five of the second round, but the re-injury always remains a possibility. The Raptors fans initially cheered when he went down, before giving him a massive ovation when he left the court. A fan has since sent flowers on behalf of all of Canada, as a form of apology.
And the game itself was absolutely nuts. Golden State led by double-digits for much of it, as Steph and Klay continued to knock down threes all game, with Boogie Cousins effectively finishing around the rim. Toronto would turn it around in the fourth quarter, and actually took a six-point lead with around 4:00 left. Kawhi Leonard made four consecutive jumpers to get the team a six-point lead, all the while being unable to allow a basket on the other end. Their defense looked perfect, the Warriors were desperate, and the home crowd was on their side. And then a play that drew the ire of analysts, coaches, and other players everywhere. Nick Nurse calls a timeout!
In the moment, I personally agreed with his decision to take a timeout before he lost it, but it cost them. It cost them momentum, and it allowed Steve Kerr to have a talk with his players too. After the timeout, Toronto would score only two points for the remainder of the game, allowing GS to finish on a 9-2 run. The timeout is only part of their struggles, but had they opted not to take it, they were a basket or two in a row away from putting the game out of reach.
With just under 2:00 left, Golden State fired up a three that was coming off the rim, and DeMarcus Cousins put it back down with a big slam. It was ruled offensive interference, and after a long review, the call remained. The Warriors did not let this get their spirits down, as they got two straight stops, and hit threes on each possession. Up by one with 14 seconds left, they picked up an offensive foul, giving the Raptors a chance at the last shot.
Once they got the ball, everyone expected Kawhi to shoot it. With six seconds left, he was doubled. He gave it to Fred Van Vleet, who shoveled it to Kyle Lowry in the corner. He put up the shot to win the championship, but it was way off. Draymond Green was all over it. A lot of people questioned the decision of Kawhi to pass/Nurse to not call a timeout. They ended up with a decent look though, and if I were the coach, would run that 10 times out of 10. Kawhi already made a series-ending shot this year, but when the double comes, you have to act fast. There was no reason for him to “Kobe” in that situation.
The Raptors fans were outraged, and the Warriors fans rejoiced. But with KD out for the remainder of the series, can Golden State win two games?