As TSN and Sportsnet continue to air every Raptors game from last year's road to the NBA title, we'll be featuring game recaps and other written content to transport you back in time for a complete experience of reliving the most memorable stretch of basketball in Toronto's history.
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This story was originally published on June 11, 2019.
As he has done time and time again in these playoffs, Kawhi Leonard came up big for the Toronto Raptors down the stretch of Game 5. He shrugged off a rough shooting night to score 10 straight points, helping the Raptors turn a four-point deficit into a six-point lead with 3:28 to play.
That run put the Raptors in position to secure their first-ever title, but it wasn't quite enough - behind some incredible shot making from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, as well as a cold spell for the Raptors, the Golden State Warriors rallied back in historic fashion to force a Game 6 on their homecourt.
So what exactly happened to the Raptors? Let's pick it up at the 3:05 mark, following two timeouts from Nick Nurse.
Where Game 5 was decided
The five Raptors on the court at the time were Leonard, Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell and Marc Gasol. The five Warriors were Curry, Thompson, Quinn Cook, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins.
Coming out of the timeout, the Raptors cleared the floor for Leonard to attack Green 1-on-1, leading to a non-shooting foul on Green.
With that being Green's fifth foul of the game, he switched assignments with Thompson, meaning Thompson was on Leonard and Green was on Lowry.
"Klay, I got five," Green was seen saying to Thompson on the broadcast, motioning towards Leonard.
The Raptors put the ball in Leonard's hands and cleared the floor for him to go to work, but Thompson defended him perfectly to force an airball. Thompson has been one of Golden State's most effective defenders on Leonard in this series, limiting him to 20 points on 5-for-14 shooting from the field over 90 possessions.
Following a 3-pointer from Thompson, the Raptors gave the ball to Gasol at the elbow and had Lowry set a screen for Leonard in the corner to set him up for a handoff with Gasol.
Thompson defended Leonard well, wedging himself between Leonard and Lowry to prevent him from using the screen. The Raptors still got an open shot out of it because Green helped off of Lowry anticipating the backdoor cut, but Lowry was unable to make him pay.
A putback dunk off of a missed 3-pointer from Curry by Cousins was ruled as an offensive goaltending. Both teams made some substitutions, with Danny Green coming in for Powell and Andre Iguodala coming in for Cook.
That shifted some of the matchups for the Warriors, with Iguodala now guarding Lowry and Green moving onto VanVleet.
The Raptors put the ball back in Leonard's hands and ran a high pick-and-roll with Gasol. The Warriors didn't give him any room to attack - Thompson was on his hip and Cousins dropped back to the paint while Iguodala helped way off of Lowry - leaving Lowry to create something late in the shot clock.
Lowry called for a pick-and-roll with Gasol and got downhill, but the possession ended with him throwing a pass into the backcourt.
Tied at 103, the Raptors turned to Leonard once again.
Instead of running another pick-and-roll with Gasol, Leonard went to work against Thompson in isolation and short-armed a stepback 3-pointer. It wasn't necessarily a bad shot considering Leonard drained a couple of pull-up 3s early in the period, but it was a tough one.
Now trailing 106-103, the Raptors were in desperate need of a basket. After a timeout, they targeted Cousins by clearing the left side of the floor for Lowry to run a pick-and-roll with Gasol.
Lowry found Gasol on the roll but Cousins recovered in time to alter his shot at the rim.
The Raptors pressured the Warriors on the ensuing possession and forced a backcourt violation on Green. They then went back to the Lowry and Gasol pick-and-roll, only this time Lowry was able to get a step on Cousins for the layup.
The Raptors caught another break, with Cousins being whistled for a moving screen. That gave the Raptors one more opportunity to win the game.
The Warriors replaced Cousins with Shaun Livingston to give them another wing defender, matching him up with VanVleet. It was Iguodala and Green, however, who made the biggest plays. Iguodala timed a perfect double team to get the ball out of Leonard's hands and Green rotated over in time to block Lowry's game-winning shot off of a pass from VanVleet.
Here are the final numbers from that stretch:
A few things should jump out based on the stats and video...
- No Pascal Siakam. Siakam had a rough game - he finished with 12 points on 6-for-15 shooting from the field - but he didn't play in the final nine minutes of the fourth quarter. As much as he struggled, the Raptors might have benefited from having another playmaker on the court.
- Lowry's missed 3-pointer was a killer. The one with just over two minutes to play, not the one in the closing seconds. Had he knocked it down, it would've put the Raptors up 106-103 with 2:09 to play. It was the most open shot the Raptors got down the final stretch.
- The Warriors weren't afraid to help off of Lowry. It happened on that missed 3-pointer and the final possession, plus a couple more. Just look at Iguodala here:
He's helping pretty far off of Lowry, who is only one pass away. It's one of the downsides of the Raptors going as small as they did - Golden State's small lineups are bigger than most, as they can match Iguodala and Livingston up with Lowry and VanVleet.
- The Warriors were everywhere defensively. The Warriors deserve a ton of credit for what they did defensively. Thompson in particular did about as well as anyone could be expected on Leonard. He contested both of his shots and didn't give him any breathing room off-ball. The latter forced Leonard and the Raptors to make several plays late in the shot clock.
Fortunately for the Raptors, they have two more opportunities to bounce back from their rough stretch in Game 5. Their first comes on Thursday, when the Warriors host them for Game 6.
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