ONE win from history. Or three? The Toronto Raptors stand on the cusp of a first NBA championship on Monday night. Victory, on their home court, would be enough to bring the title to Canada for the very first time.
Fitting, when the sport was invented by a Canadian and the birth of the NBA took place just a few blocks away when the Huskies hosted the Knicks in the league’s very first contest. Deserved too, should the Raps close, given consecutive dismantlings of the reigning champs on their own floor to acquire this 3-1 series lead.
Kawhi Leonard- now an unstoppable 1.20 for Finals MVP – supreme, for sure. But with lots of offensive and defensive trickery to admire that has made Golden State look a little mortal. No wonder they are 1.20 to wrap it all up at the first attempt.
Rory reppin' the @Raptors.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 9, 2019
The Warriors, second in the league in scoring at 117.7 per game, have averaged 104.7 in the Finals – thrice putting up exactly 109. More urgently needed. And that might be where their glimmer of hope lies.
Kevin Durant, wholly absent so far due to a calf injury, practiced for the first time in an age on Sunday. His status is ‘questionable’. Normally NBA parlance for ‘Probably Not’. But these are dire times for his team and desperation is the only escape route. The question: ‘can the Warriors win it all without KD?’ is now off the table. We ask now if he might return, and can he work miracles?
Visibly still suffering, it will likely be a game-time decision. Or a last-second gamble. Maybe a huge one for the Warriors. Whenever the confetti is cleared away, whether here on after Games 6 or 7, all the talk will be about Durant’s future and if he is to accompany Golden State to San Francisco this summer or take the highway some place else.
Risking his long-term health might drive the kind of wedge that pushed Leonard out of San Antonio toward The North. If they are serious about keeping Durant in the Bay, it might be a better long-term play to lose, than to pursue this win.
In the 2016 Draft, the Raptors:
– Used the ninth pick on Jakob Poeltl, part of the package that got the Raptors Kawhi Leonard
– Used the 27th pick on Pascal Siakam, who is averaging 20.3 points in more than 40 minutes per game in the Finals
– Signed undrafted Fred VanVleet.
— (((Eric Koreen))) (@ekoreen) June 9, 2019
Not that his colleagues will stop trying by themselves, even if they are 4.75 to rally and retain with three triumphs on the bounce. Overturning a 3-1 deficit has been done before. The Warriors were witnesses up close, stung by Cleveland three years ago in an utter break with past precedent.
They will surely need to put up points – hence, taking over a total of 220 at 2.85 is an inviting punt. Nothing to lose (except supremacy). Everything to gain.
Yet, beyond their grand three of Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, the rest of GSW have looked in need of a refresh. Their bench not the source of comfort it was. Andre Iguodala not a game changer. With a fully-fit Durant, we would likely be saluting a side en route to joining the threepeating greats. Front, and behind, changes seem around the bend.
With one era teetering on the brink, the Raptors have stood tall and been the warriors. Taking the NBA 360 degrees, they would be worthy in the historic winners circle.
Best bet: Take Toronto over Golden State by -5 at 2.43