In an emotional battle, the Golden State Warriors kept their hopes of a 3-peat alive with a late-game rally to take a 106-105 win over the Toronto Raptors in Game 5.
GAME 5: Takeaways | Grades | Player reactions | Sights and sounds
Now, as the Finals shift back to The Bay, the Warriors will again look to extend the series. Can Golden State ride its momentum to force a decisive Game 7 or will Toronto bounce back and win the first title in franchise history?
Here are some keys to Game 6…
Game 5 was an emotional battle, to say the least.
Golden State's All-Star forward Kevin Durant's triumphant return from a calf injury was cut short as he suffered an Achilles injury after playing in just 12 minutes. In his absence, a visibly shaken Warriors team rallied together to lead by as many as 14 points in the second half.
Still, the Raptors found a way to respond within the game.
Toronto used a second-half rally of its own to lead by six points with under three minutes remaining and all signs indicated that it would capture the title, but the lead slipped away as the Warriors used a late 9-0 run to take the lead for good with under a minute remaining.
With each team experiencing heartbreak in Game 5, all eyes will be on the emotional response in Game 6.
The Warriors will again look to rally together and play for their teammate, who is reported to have suffered a very serious injury. In addition to Durant's absence, Game 6 will be the final game played at Oracle Arena, and the emotions of wanting to give their home fans one final win will also fuel this team.
For the Raptors, the bitter taste of coming so close to a championship without winning is an emotionally taxing experience. Fortunately for them, they are still in command as they have yet another opportunity to close the series out.
Throughout the postseason, Toronto has not gotten too high nor too low, but the emotions from letting Game 5 slip away could be spun as a positive as fuel to take Game 6.
When looking at the stats from Game 5, perimeter shooting is by far one of the most shocking.
While the Warriors knocked down a 2019 postseason-high 20 triples at a 47.6% clip, the Raptors shot just 8-for-32 (25.0%) from beyond the arc. It was just the fifth time in 23 games this postseason that Toronto hit fewer than 10 3s and just the third time the team shot 25.0% or worse from beyond the arc.
Needless to say, it was a bit of a statistical outlier for both teams but will things regress to the mean?
Klay Thompson (7-for-13) and Stephen Curry (5-for-14) can be counted on to put forth a similar - or better - shooting performance in Game 6, but Kevin Durant (3-for-3) will be out and Draymond Green's 22.6% shooting from beyond the arc this postseason would suggest another night of shooting 2-for-4 from deep isn't as likely.
Conversely, Kawhi Leonard shot 2-for-7 from beyond the arc after shooting 5-for-9 in Game 4, while Pascal Siakam (0-for-4), Danny Green (0-for-4) and Kyle Lowry (1-for-6) combined to shoot 1-for-14 from beyond the arc in the loss. Marc Gasol (2-for-3) and Fred VanVleet (3-for-6) were the only two Raptors to have efficient shooting games from deep.
To make matters worse for the Raptors, NBA.com Stats data indicates that the team was 3-for-18 (16.7%) shooting 3-pointers that were deemed as wide open while the Warriors were 9-for-17 (52.9%).
While the data isn't necessarily flawless, the shockingly large gap between the two teams was clearly a difference maker.
This postseason, the Raptors are hitting 11.8 3s at a 35.0% clip on the road while the Warriors have made 11.7 triples at a 36.9% clip at Oracle Arena. Toronto again finding its rhythm from the perimeter could be the boost it needs to take Game 6.
Kawhi's offensive output
Kawhi Leonard is in the midst of a historic postseason run. In Game 5, he became just the sixth player in NBA history to score over 700 points in a single postseason, and now has the fifth-most points scored in one postseason with 710.
While he finished with a team-high 26 points, Kawhi's 9-for-24 (37.5%) shooting from the field was rather uncharacteristic and he turned the ball over five times after committing none during his dominant performance in Game 4.
Still, despite the numbers, Kawhi reminded everyone of exactly who he was with his quick flurry of 10 points in the fourth quarter to put the Raptors up before the Warriors responded with their game-winning run. Even on an off night by his standards, Leonard continues to find ways to shoulder the offensive load and put this team in a position to win, an encouraging sign ahead of Game 6.
Much like the team's 3-point shooting, Leonard's game was a deviation from the norm - it was just the fourth time this postseason that he shot below 40.0% from the field and his timing looked slightly off outside of his impressive fourth-quarter run.
So, how will he bounce back?
Leonard stands to make history should he put forth another 30-point performance as nine road games with 30 or more points in a single postseason would tie an NBA record set by Kobe Bryant during the Lakers 2009 title run.
In the Finals, Kawhi has averaged 33.0 points (on 51.3% shooting) in two road games while he's averaged 27.7 points (on 37.9% shooting) in three home games. If he's able to continue his road dominance, the Raptors have a great chance to take yet another game at Oracle.
If not Boogie, then who?
As Kevin Durant dazzled in his return, it appeared that we might have seen the last of DeMarcus Cousins this series.
After Durant went down, not all hope was lost as Cousins was inserted in the game along with Alfonzo McKinnie; Boogie's impact was felt almost immediately. After it appeared that he wouldn't play at all, Cousins displayed that he stayed ready as he scored on his first offensive possession.
This early bucket set the tone as Cousins would go on to score on three of his first four offensive possessions and finish the first half with nine points and five rebounds in six minutes. He finished the game with an impactful 14 points and six rebounds in under 20 minutes of action.
All things considered, the Warriors don't win Game 5 without Cousins preparedness to produce, but we've been here before.
Cousins bounced back from a rough Game 1 to deliver a game-altering performance in Game 2 after being placed into a starting role. He had a hard time following up his Game 2, as Games 3 and 4 were just as rough as the series opener and had seemingly placed him out of the rotation.
While a title is on the line, it should not be forgotten that Cousins is recovering from a serious injury of his own, and his performance in Game 5 could again be hard to follow in Game 6. If he's unable to provide similar production in Game 6, who steps up for the Warriors?
In order to win, Golden State will need to produce offence outside of Curry and Thompson but the circumstance makes things trickier.
Kevon Looney continues to play through the pain of an injury that is clearly limiting him, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green can only be relied on so much for their scoring and the rest of the team that saw time in Game 5 (Shaun Livingston, Quinn Cook, Andrew Bogut, Alfonzo McKinnie and Jordan Bell) scored a combined five points.
The supporting cast is said to play better at home and for Golden State, this must reign true in order to force a Game 7.
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