The Toronto Raptors are 2019 NBA Champions

The team from the 6 just closed out the reigning NBA dynasty, the Golden State Warriors, in six games, doing so in Oakland, in the last game ever at the rowdy Oracle Arena. It was one of the most incredible basketball games I can recall having watched here in recent history. It was scrappy, hard fought, tough, but balanced, even and high scoring, despite for the most part really good defense. Kyle Lowry went nuclear in the first half, Fred Van Vleet outscored two time MVP Steph Curry, and ultimately Kawhi Leonard was named Finals MVP for the second time in his career.

It was also the second time in his career that he prevented the current dynasty of the league from achieving a three-peat. That season and that championship are actually pretty reminiscent of this season. At the beginning of the season, the Warriors were already crowned, and the three peat was practically a sure thing. The same goes to that Lebron James Heat team of 2013-2014. On paper, these two teams were lightyears ahead of the rest of the league. No one should have come close. The Warriors fresh of a sweep of the Cavs in the finals last season, added All-star big man Demarcus Cousins, who was coming off an Achilles injury. They were absolutely loaded. However, there were chemistry issues as the season wore on. Draymond Green and Kevin Durant got into it after an ugly loss and it seemed like the team was unraveling. The uncertainty behind KD’s contract status for this summer was nagging at players, coaches, staff, and fans. No one still has any idea what he will do in July.

They persevered throughout the season, and ended as the 1 seed in the west again, winning 58 games. They struggled past the Clippers in round one, but closed it out in 6 games. The semi-finals gave them the Rockets, who took them to seven in the WCF just last year. They split the first four games, and it looked as if 7 was imminent. Then, KD strained his calf. Everyone speculated it was an Achilles injury, but according to the team it was nothing more than a calf strain. This somehow propelled the Warriors to close out game 5, and take care of business in game 6 in Houston, winning the series 4-2.


The Western Conference Finals gave us Portland and Golden State for a chance at the the final series. It wasn’t close. It was a clean sweep, that actually saw the Warriors trailing more than they ever held the lead. In two separate games, the Warriors held big double digit deficits to the Blazers, and overcame. Media heads were speculating “is this team better without Kevin Durant?” It was utter nonsense. The Warriors without KD are still pretty damn good, but obviously much better, offensively and defensively.

The final showdown was set. Oakland and Toronto. The Town vs. The 6ix. E40 vs Drake. Warriors vs Raptors. For what it was, it was an incredible series. Games 3 and 4 in Oakland were the least entertaining games, but the other four were incredibly tight, and enthralling. The teams split games 1 and 2. Then shockingly, the Raptors stole the next two in Oakland, to storm to a 3-1 series lead. It was all but over.

Then the Warriors announced KD was returning. Game 5 in Toronto was KD’s first game in a little more than a month since straining his calf. He started the game on fire. 3-3 from deep for 11 points in just 12 minutes of play. But then, disaster struck. Durant ruptured his Achilles planting his right foot early in the second quarter. It looked like a shotgun went off in his calf. It was devastating. Somehow, the Warriors were able to pull this game out. Down 6 with a little more than 2 minutes left, a pair of threes from Steph and Klay tied the game. The game came down to a last second shot, which featured Kyle Lowry taking a corner three to win the championship. Draymond, seemingly out of nowhere, got a finger on it and the shot was way off.

After that game it felt like the Warriors had some real traction.

Fast forward to the third quarter of last nights game, Klay Thompson was fouled by Danny Green on a fast break dunk attempt. The foul was clean, but it altered how Klay came down. It was awkward, and his knee bent in a way knees are not supposed to. He was immediately in pain, and seemingly Steph knew what it was. Klay headed to the locker room, only to return to shoot two free throws. He sank them both. He exited the game and would not return. He had torn his ACL.

So the Warriors down two of their best three players, trailing the series 3-2, but winning the game by a hair in the third, had their work cut out for them. It was back and forth the rest of the way. The Warriors were down 1 with ~20 seconds left, when they forced Kawhi to give up the ball to Danny Green, who caught the ball in the absolute worst spot. Trapped by the half court line, and the out of bounds line. Guarded by Draymond Green, he threw the ball to Pascal Siakam who could not track it down. It seemed poetic. It seemed like the Warriors had gotten the break they needed.

9 second left Warriors ball, down 1. No surprise who they draw the play up for. It was a well designed play. The inbounds pass went cross court to Draymond, and Steph came off of a screen from Andre Igoudala and got a really good look for three. It just would not go. I personally felt, down one, that the Raptors know Steph is getting the ball, so you have to use him as a distraction, and get the best possible shot you can. I don’t think that’s the shot you wanted. But that’s the shot they got, and it didn’t go their way. Draymond recovered the loose ball, and instinctively called timeout, even though they had none. Technical foul, game basically over, and a new champion is crowned.

It was an incredibly gamble by the Raptors, trading for Kawhi, knowing there’s a very good chance he leaves after the year is over. It was a gamble that paid off. They have won their first NBA championship in their short history. It was an incredible moment for them.

Now that the season is officially over, the real fun is about to begin, NBA free agency. Guys like Kyrie, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Demarcus Cousins, Kemba Walker, Kawhi Leonard are all set to be unrestricted free agents. Teams like the Nets, the Knicks, and the Lakers have their eyes on these big name guys. The NBA is set to look very different next year.

Where things get very interesting to me, is the Warriors situation. All year, it’s been a foregone conclusion that KD was leaving GS. However, after the Achilles injury, which will likely keep him out all of next year, it feels to me that KD’s most prudent decision would be to stay in the Bay. Same with Klay, who will likely be out all of next year.

Kemba Walker yesterday announced he would take a team friendly deal in Charlotte to help build talent around him. Kawhi is a walking enigma. Jimmy Butler seems to want out of Philly (shocker). Same goes for Kyrie and Boston.

There are so many question marks surrounding the league next year, and it is going to be a very fun summer piecing together these superstar teams.

Published by Footy Foster

26 years young. Located in San Diego. I coach high school soccer, sell solar panels, podcast, and blog. My interest and hobbies include listening to music - hip-hop, alternative, and classic rock, - playing and watching soccer, and skiing. I aspire to travel and live a truly free life. These will more often than not be the subject matter of my blogs, as well as an attempt at humor. We'll see about that last part. Enjoy.

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