Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): Kawhi Leonard was going off, Scotiabank Arena was rocking, Jurassic Parks all throughout the country were ecstatic and Canada was ready to party.
Then the final three minutes happened.
Now the Raptors have to go into Oracle and try to win yet again. Lose that and it's a do-or-die Game 7 in which anything can happen.
That's a long-winded way of asking ... did the Raptors just blow their best shot at winning the NBA title?
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): I don't think so. Based on how the first four games of the series went, I'm just not sure the Warriors have the firepower to beat this Raptors team two more times without Kevin Durant.
Gil McGregor (@GMcGregor21): I'm with you on that. Aside from a big third quarter in Game 2 and a late-game run in Game 5, the Raptors have pretty much outplayed the Warriors for the entirety of this series. At this point, I think the lack of firepower neutralizes any home court advantage Golden State might have.
Toronto hasn't lost at Oracle this year, either.
Rafferty: That's wild to me. It hasn't been particularly closer either - they've won three games by an average of 15.7 points!
McGregor: This kinda has the feel of one of those bizarro series where home court becomes an entire nonfactor. Home teams are 1-4 so far.
Adams: What's wild to me is that you both just referred to a team with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson as one that lacks firepower. I'm not saying the Warriors are about to roll or anything ... but the Splash Brothers just hit 12 3s on the road and the Warriors just made the 2nd-most 3s in any game in Finals history.
Game 5 was the 4th time that both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson hit 5 3-pt FG in the same NBA Finals game as teammates.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 11, 2019
No other duo has done so more than once. pic.twitter.com/6WKYXPFBya
They have firepower!
Rafferty: They can beat any team in the league as long as those two are playing, but I'm not convinced they have the depth to pull this off without Durant. It basically comes down to one or two of DeMarcus Cousins, Quinn Cook, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green hitting shots.
McGregor: It's gonna take big nights from both of them. They can conceivably combine to score 70-80 points. It's a lot, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. Still, how much can we really count on everyone else?
Adams: There's not a pair of teammates in NBA history I'd be more scared of with their backs against the walls than those two guys. But you're right ... even if they go off, someone else has to step up. But the reverse is true too. We really haven't had a game yet in the Finals where the Raptors role players no-showed.
McGregor: Fair point. That just might be the reason I trust them to show up once again.
Adams: So do you trust Fred VanVleet, Danny Green, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka collectively more than the aforementioned group for Golden State?
Rafferty: At this point, yes. I trust Draymond, but Iguodala has been banged up in these playoffs and Shaun Livingston has declined in a big way this season. Cousins has played well in two games, but he struggled in the three others.
The Raptors just have a few more established role players who can contribute, so there's less pressure on, for example, Gasol or Green to have big games every night out.
McGregor: Danny Green is due another big game after going off in Game 3 and Pascal Siakam can be much better than he was in Game 5. I'd venture to say the ways in which this Raptors supporting cast can affect a game are far more impactful.
Adams: This conversation right here is why I'm nervous for the Raptors. We're spending all of this energy talking about supporting casts when standing on the other side are two flame throwers that can get hotter than the sun and when they do, are practically unguardable.
If Klay and Steph go off, there's just nothing the Raptors can do about it. It's a big IF for sure ... but I feel like they almost no longer control their own destiny which is why I think blowing Game 5 really stings.
Rafferty: It definitely stings, but the Raptors have the defenders to make life difficult for Curry and Thompson in ways few other teams can. That's why the supporting casts matter so much. Unless someone can consistently step up, it's going to be really difficult for them.
McGregor: How much do we really see them going off at this point, though? How much more can they do than they did in Game 5? They combined for 57 and won by one ... now there's no KD and Boogie is a question mark. 60? 70? What's it going to take?
Adams: I think 60 is the number, but I wouldn't put it past them to get 70 or maybe even 80. Who knows! They went for 60 in that Game 6 win at Houston without KD. You guys talked about needing others to step up? Andre Igudala did just that in that game against the Rockets, burying five 3s. Granted, this Raptors D is a completely different animal.
Rafferty: Right. To be clear, I could totally see both of them going nuts and if not winning both games, pushing this to a Game 7. I just like Toronto's odds more, even after blowing Game 5 in the way they did.
Adams: I know the Raptors have been great at Oracle, but asking them to win there four times in one year, including three in a single series, might be too much.
Only six teams in NBA history have ever won three road games in a single Finals, the last being the Lakers in 2001. And this Warriors team is on another level than the Allen Iverson-led 76ers that the Lakers handled on the road. It's just really, REALLY hard.
If it was the 2-3-2 format, I'd feel less concerned.
Rafferty: The flip side of this is only one team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals.
The Warriors enter Game 4 down 2-1 in the series and facing a near must-win scenario. Teams are 1-33 all-time when falling behind 3-1 in the NBA Finals.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 7, 2019
The only team to overcome a 3-1 deficit? The 2016 Cavaliers. pic.twitter.com/cDzU4Izsfa
Do we think these Warriors without Durant can become the second?
McGregor: Winning three straight against a team like the Raptors is hard enough but I just can't see the Warriors doing it without KD. Not to mention, the Warriors would have to have won three road games as well.
Adams: I guess where I'm at with this series:
- I think the Raptors blew their best chance
- I think the threat of Golden State catching fire and winning it is very real
- I still think the Raptors are should be favoured and will ultimately finish the job
The Warriors looked deflated even after that Game 5 win. Maybe it's too much to ask for them to rally. Or maybe the KD injury is what ignites a proud group to dig deep yet again.
This is a different kind of pressure for the Raptors. Putting away a team like Golden State is different than rallying back against teams like Milwaukee and Philadelphia, two talented squads yet filled with guys who haven't really been there before.
McGregor: True. This Warriors team has arguably more guys that have been there before than the Bucks and Sixers combined ... but the Raptors have this guy named Kawhi Leonard.
Clutch from Kawhi (39 PTS) to extend the @Raptors lead! #NBAPlayoffs#WeTheNorth 96#PhilaUnite 90- NBA (@NBA) May 5, 2019
38.5 left on #NBAonABC pic.twitter.com/pnV5nnXPiT
He's made big plays on big stages a time or two in his career and he's played much better on the road this series.
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