2019 NBA Finals: Game 5 (Raptors lead 3-2)
Golden State Warriors (106) – Toronto Raptors (105)
The tide was overwhelming, crashing down on the Warriors them after a huge Game 4 loss. The Warriors were heading north for possibly the final game of the season. Toronto was ready to celebrate a championship coming into Game 5. Who could blame them? With the way the Raptors handled the Warriors in Oakland in Game 4, the team and their fans could smell blood in the water.
The Warriors proved today that taking the championship away from them wouldn’t be that easy. The defending champions could have folded at anytime during the past few days, including during the game today. But they didn’t. They should championship resilience at it’s finest.
Moments before Game 5, Steve Kerr announced that Kevin Durant will be playing in the do-or-die game for the Warriors.
Steve Kerr on Kevin Durant's workouts over the past 36 hours: "He responded well and, yeah, he's going to play"
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 10, 2019
Durant could have opted to sit out. It’s clear that he wasn’t at 100% yet. But with the season and the championship on the line, he chose to make one last stand with his team.
Early on, it looked like he Durant would be the difference-maker in Game 5. He started alongside the Hamptons Five and helped the Warriors jump out to a first quarter lead with three triples in the first quarter alone.
But disaster struck early in the second period. Durant tried to make a move to get past Serge Ibaka when he stopped and started limping to the sideline. Durant crashed to the floor and immediately held on to the back of his ankle. He called for the trainers and had to be helped out of the playing court.
During the post game press conference, Warriors President of Basketball Operations Bob Myers confirmed that Durant injured his Achilles. The extent of which has yet to be determined after an MRI.
"It's an Achilles injury. … He'll have an MRI tomorrow."
Bob Myers holds back tears as he explains the magnitude of Kevin Durant's injury. pic.twitter.com/glQ6j5hATe
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 11, 2019
After Durant’s devastating injury the Warriors could have folded up. It’s not easy sustaining momentum after seeing your teammate leave the game, especially under those circumstances. But they didn’t.
The Warriors weathered the storm by playing together. They put more effort on the defensive end, forcing the Raptors to several missed shots. On offense, they were able to extend the lead KD helped build with big shots from Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
The Splash Brothers found their range, combining for 12 three-pointers in Game 5. Even with the vicious Raptors defense zoned in on them, they were able to hit big shots to help build a 14-point third quarter lead. Curry finished with a game high 31 points. Thompson wasn’t far behind with 26.
That 14-point lead didn’t hold up for long. Kawhi Leonard flipped the switch in midway through the fourth quarter. He scored 10 straight points to turn a four-point deficit into a six-point lead. He had the the entire country rocking after his torrid run to push the Raptors ahead. Toronto was could practically taste the championship at that point.
The Warriors were facing a six-point deficit, away from home, with the opposing team’s player heating up. They could have folded at that point and conceded the championship. But they didn’t.
Thompson and Curry drilled clutch three-pointers to erase the Raptors lead and put the team ahead by one point. But the Warriors didn’t win with their shooting. They won with their defense.
After being blasted in the past two games for their lax defense, Golden State put together an epic stand in the final seconds of the game. They prevented Leonard from taking the last shot and rotated to get a hand up on Kyle Lowry’s potential championship winning three.
The Warriors extend the series to a Game 6. They head back home, this time with the certainty that Durant won’t be there to help them in the next game. It’s all them. This group proved that they can win games in Toronto. Now they have to prove that they can win games on their home court.
If they do, they push the series to a Game 7 and put all the pressure on the Warriors not to fall after building a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 lead.
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