The Toronto Raptors are NBA champions for the the first time in franchise history. They secured the title with a 114-110 win over the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, taking the series 4-2.
An instant classic in every sense of the word, the two teams went back and forth from the opening tip until the final buzzer. There was once again another significant injury as Klay Thompson went down with a knee injury late in the third quarter, and left the arena on crutches. Golden State kept fighting, but shorthanded as they were, they couldn't quite find enough buckets down the stretch as Steph Curry's potential game-winning 3-pointer went awry.
Kyle Lowry finished with 26 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Raptors. Pascal Siakam also went for 26, while Kawhi Leonard and Fred VanVleet each added 22 of their own. Thompson led the Warriors with 30 points, and Andre Iguodala chipped in 22 points.
Here are six major takeaways from the Raptors' championship-securing victory:
1. Not a normal championship
Nothing about this NBA title the Raptors just won is normal. It is the first in the history of the franchise, for starters. These Finals finished with five straight road victories, which is almost impossible to believe. Kawhi Leonard comes to Toronto as a potential one-year rental, after sitting out basically the entire prior season, and ascends to perhaps the best player in the world when everyone kind of forgot about him. The last season for the Warriors at Oracle Arena. Kevin Durant misses the first four games, then guts his way back in Game 5, only to tear his Achilles tendon and completely alter not only these Finals, but the landscape of the entire league. Klay Thompson comes back after straining a hamstring and missing Game 3 to go nuclear in Game 6, only to . And somehow the Warriors are still in it, down one with under 10 seconds to play and the greatest shooter ever has a clean look to send it to a Game 7 and keep the hope of winning four titles in five years alive. And misses.
If you wrote this script and pitched it to Hollywood, you'd get laughed out of the room.
That would never happen. Make it at least halfway realistic.
2. Give the Raptors all the credit
There is going to be a lot of talk about the Warriors' injuries, and clearly they impacted this series in a major way. But the Raptors won this series by making clutch shot after clutch shot. Kawhi Leonard was brilliant all series and all playoffs. Kyle Lowry? This man erased every doubt that has ever been laid upon his shoulders. He couldn't miss in the first quarter and finished with 26 points and 10 assists in a championship clincher. I'm telling you, this Warriors team, hobbled as it was, made Toronto earn every single inch of this title, and it did. The Raptors made the shots. They got the stops. They rotated and fought and rebounded and hit more shots and more shots and more shots, and they just wouldn't stop until they had the hardware. And now they do. Congratulations, Toronto. This is a special one.
3. Give the Warriors credit, too
When it comes to the Warriors, we always think about the shooting and the glitz and glamour. We think of the show. But what doesn't get talked enough about is the heart of this team. That sounds so cliche, but it's so true. This team absolutely refuses to quit. They were on the ropes against Houston when Durant went down, and won two straight. They were on the ropes against these Raptors all series long. When they lost Durant in Game 5, so many teams would've laid down in that moment. The Warriors fought, and somehow won, and then when Klay goes out in Game 6, honestly, how do you find the resolve to keep playing and have a shot to win it at the end? Draymond Green. Stephen Curry. Andre Iguodala knocking shots down all over the court. Boogie Cousins goes from unplayable to vital cog making huge plays in the biggest moments. That's why you have to credit the Raptors so much, because the Warriors didn't lay down. They threw every punch they had in the bag, and Toronto was just better.
4. Game 6 Klay shows up again
Thompson was phenomenal before he went down with a knee injury late in the third that we still don't know the extent of. He was on his way to carrying the Warriors to victory, hitting so many clutch shots it got hard to keep track. He finished with 30 points on 4-of-6 from deep, and the weight of some of those shots felt like much more than the points they were worth. When Klay injured his knee after being fouled, he limped off the court and into the locker room, only to be told if he didn't shoot the free throws, he couldn't return to the game. Out he came from the tunnel like Willis Reed to knock down two free throws. The Warriors then fouled to get him off the court, took him out, and he never returned. But his legacy lives on. This dude is a stud, plain and simple, and if the Warriors don't offer him a max contract to stay this offseason they would be the dumbest team in the league. I do not believe they are that. Klay will be back with Golden State.
5. Fred VanVleet!!!!!!!!
There was a time in these playoffs when VanVleet was bordering on unplayable. But Nick Nurse stuck with him, and wow, what a payoff. To say VanVleet was huge in these Finals would be an understatement. Huge shot after huge shot. A one-man blanket on Stephen Curry. VanVleet finished with 22 points on 5 of 11 from 3, and a handful of those shots were of the backbreaking variety. They were the type of shots that win you championships. It wasn't just VanVleet -- Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, Normal Powell getting big minutes in a nail-biting closeout game, all of the "others" on the Raptors were, in fact, otherworldly in their contributions, but none more so that VanVleet.
6. Steph Curry had a shot at immortality
With under 10 seconds to play on the heels of a Raptors turnover, the Warriors had the ball on the sideline down by one. Steve Kerr drew up a terrific play, clearing out the far side of the court for a pass over the top that diverted the defense's attention just enough for Curry to get a screen and fly open around the arc for a potential game-winning, legacy-defining 3.
It wasn't to be.
In that situation, when everyone in the building knows the Warriors are trying to get the ball to Curry, and he's been getting double and triple-teamed all game, to get him that open is as good a look as Golden State and Curry could've ever hoped for. Had he made that shot, his legacy would've gone to another level. He would've been immortal. Now, the people who believe he isn't a clutch player and can't be depended upon in the biggest of playoff moments, well, they still have their ammunition. It's probably not fair, but it is what it is. Curry had his shot, and he missed it.
Recap all the news and highlights from Game 6 below: