It’s the final game, win or lose, for the Oracle Arena as a full-blown NBA venue. The Toronto Raptors are on the road as they take on the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals Thursday night. The teams split the first two games in Toronto with the Raptors taking Game 1, 118-109 before Golden State answered with a 109-104 win in Game 2. Toronto swept Games 3 and 4 at Golden State, winning 123-109 in Game 3 and 105-92 in Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead. With their backs to the wall, the Warriors won a back and forth affair in Game 5, hanging on for a 106-105 win Monday night to extend the series. Can Golden State find a way to force a Game 7 or will Toronto claim the first title in franchise history here?
Toronto Raptors Seek to Clinch First Title in Franchise History
Toronto had their chances to pick up the win in Game 5 and clinch the first title in the history of the franchise but let it slip through their fingers. The Raptors now hope to bounce back and avoid a Game 7 at home Sunday. Toronto was down six after the opening quarter and at the half: they trailed by as many as 14 in the third quarter before cutting the deficit back to six at the end of three. In the fourth quarter, the Raptors used a 12-2 run to take a 103-97 lead with 3:28 to play on the strength of Kawhi Leonard ripping off 10 straight points. Unfortunately, Toronto went ice cold the rest of the way, getting outscored 9-2 to end up a point short. Kyle Lowry had a potential series-winning jumper partially blocked by Draymond Green at the buzzer, sending the series back to the west coast. Toronto shot 44.7 percent from the field, including eight of 32 from three-point range, and won the rebounding battle 43-37. Leonard led the way for the Raptors with 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in the loss.
KAWHI 'BUCKETS' LEONARD pic.twitter.com/r0c5037U4a
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) June 11, 2019
The Raptors have stuck with an eight-man rotation in this series, if you count Norman Powell’s 11 minutes a game as a major factor. Toronto has gotten better balance in their scoring in the series as some of their secondary options have stepped up against the Warriors after being non-factors against Milwaukee. Leonard is still carrying the show, averaging 29.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. He’s been aggressive at getting to the charity stripe as he’s shot 56 free throws in the five games, draining 51 of them.
Marc Gasol has stepped up his game in the series as he puts up 13.8 points and seven rebounds against the Warriors. That comes on the heels of averages of 8.5 points plus 7.2 rebounds while shooting 34 percent against the Bucks and 8.7 points against the 76ers. Fred VanVleet has taken major steps forward in the last couple of rounds: he scored just 14 points in the seven games against the 76ers, shooting a miserable 12.5 percent from the field. He averaged 9.7 points against the Bucks, shooting 57.1 percent from beyond the arc, and has boosted his output to 12.4 points a game against the Warriors. The secondary scoring is critical to take pressure off of Leonard and Pascal Siakam offensively.
Lowry was concerned about the number of three-point attempts that Curry and Thompson fired up in Game 5 and said the team will look to limit that number in Game 6: “I think the fact that Steph and Klay were able to get off 14 and 13 threes is too many. For guys like them, they’re going to make — you give them that many threes, they’re going to make some. So we let them get too many threes off.”
This is Toronto’s first appearance in the NBA Finals, so they’ve never been in a situation where they’ve led 3-1, now 3-2. The pressure is still on Golden State in Game 6, but if the series is tied, even though it goes back to Toronto, the heat is now on Nick Nurse and the Raptors. Should he have called timeout with Toronto up six to get his players extra rest? That was followed by a Golden State 9-2 run.
Golden State Warriors Try to Force Game 7
Golden State was on the wrong side of a 3-1 rally in the NBA Finals three years ago against the Cavaliers. The Warriors took the first step to exorcising that demon as they managed to prevail in Game 5, though it did come with a price. Golden State grabbed a six-point edge after the opening quarter and, through the ups and downs of the next two quarters, maintained that edge heading to the fourth. The Warriors had a rough stretch late in the fourth quarter, finding themselves in a six-point hole with 3:28 to go. Golden State caught a break when Nurse called a timeout for Toronto and regrouped as they reeled off nine straight points to take a three-point edge in the final minute.
Leading by one with under 20 seconds to play, Stephen Curry was whistled for an offensive foul, giving Toronto one last chance. On the final possession, the Warriors forced the ball out of Leonard’s hands and Draymond Green managed to alter the final shot, giving Golden State the win. Golden State shot 46.3 percent from the field, drained 20 of 42 three-point attempts, and overcame 15 turnovers in the game. Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 31 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Kevin Durant, who played for the first time since May 8 against the Rockets, finished with 11 points in 12 minutes but suffered an Achilles injury: early reports say that it could be a torn Achilles tendon.
“It’s a bizarre feeling that we all have right now — an incredible win and a horrible loss at the same time,” Steve Kerr said during his postgame press conference.
Not done yet.
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) June 11, 2019
The Warriors are dealing with a series of injuries that have forced Kerr to adjust his rotation to playing guys that you normally wouldn’t see logging double-digit minutes in the postseason. In addition to Durant, Kevon Looney is dealing with a 1st degree costal cartilage non-displaced fracture, Andre Iguodala has had a hamstring issue and Shaun Livingston is battling a sore knee. The Warriors got DeMarcus Cousins back after he missed all but one game plus three minutes and change of the first three rounds of the postseason. He’s been a virtual non-factor here as he has put up 7.6 points plus 4.6 rebounds per game while shooting 41.9 percent from the floor.
Steph & Klay combined for 57 points on 12 made threes in last night’s down-to-the-wire dub ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/mlNxMtMJSx
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) June 11, 2019
But Cousins was finally productive in Game 5 with 14 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes coming off the bench. “I thought DeMarcus was fantastic tonight,” Kerr said. “He stayed ready. He didn’t get the first call for that second-quarter run. We went to (Andrew) Bogut and then with the injury we knew we needed his scoring and he stayed ready and played a brilliant game.”
Golden State is going to have to get someone, or more than likely, production from multiple guys, to help the Splash Brothers on the offensive end. Curry (32.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists) and Klay Thompson (25 points, 57.1 percent from three-point range) can’t do it all if they want to see Game 7. Looney is questionable for Game 6 as he continues to battle with his collarbone injury that initially had him ruled out for the rest of the postseason.
Regarding Durant’s situation after the star forward confirmed that he suffered a torn Achilles and had surgery, Kerr had the following to say: “Kevin checked all the boxes, and he was cleared to play by everybody involved. Now, would we go back and do it over again? Damn right. But that’s easy to say after the results. When we gathered all the information, our feeling was the worst thing that could happen would be a re-injure of the calf. That was the advice and the information that we had. At that point, once Kevin was cleared to play, he was comfortable with that, we were comfortable with that. So the Achilles came as a complete shock.”
- Raptors are 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600
- Raptors are 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record
- Raptors are 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 games overall
- Warriors are 5-16 ATS in their last 21 Thursday games
- Warriors are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games
- Warriors are 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 vs. Eastern Conference teams