The Toronto Raptors are now NBA Champions for the first time in their history; twenty years is a long time to wait. There is a party going on somewhere on the Drake estate and a feeling of accomplishment is running throughout the veins of all the players, even those who were never on the court…cough…Jeremy Lin…cough. It is hard to ignore the pride that comes with winning and the headlines that follow it after. The media has already begun to bombard sports fans with titles like, Raptors Stars Get Unlikely Revenge with NBA Championship over Warriors and Kawhi: Kingslayer, but what has not been mentioned is that the Warriors were a Steph Curry 3 pointer away from making this a Game 7 to be played on Sunday. Or, how the Warriors were playing without their best player in Kevin Durant and their easily second best player, Klay Thompson, throughout most of this series, or how Klay Thompson’s injury in the third quarter was a major nail in the coffin moment for a Warriors team that often struggled to maintain their offensive and defensive rhythm this whole playoffs.
You are shaking your head and wide eyed in genuine disbelief that I would seemingly try to deflate and devalue this win for our friends on the other side of the Canadian border. That is far from the truth and maybe I am assuming that Raptor fans are now living behind some sunshine and flowers colored windows with this victory, but it needs to be stated that last night was more of a reminder on the potential dynastic abilities of the Warriors than on the greatness of the Raptors. With Kevin Durant out for all but 15mins of this series during a playoffs that saw him average 32pts a game while shooting 51% from the field and 43% from behind the arc, their offense took a sudden hit in the gut that called for Curry and Thompson to return to the Splash Brother days of deep three point barrages. They picked up that call on the first ring and began that Golden State shine until Klay Thompson went down two games, giving life back to the Raptors after a flame on from the Warriors during their Game 2 storm back. This injury reminded us of the dearth of depth that the Warriors were now dealing with, something that had been discussed throughout the season but overshadowed by how great of team they were when their starting five took the floor. There was no Durant pulling up for threes with a casual step or an awkwardly positioned jumper from Thompson as multiple defenders tried to disrupt it, or even an offensively great game from Draymond Green, who still was a brilliant facilitator and emotional motor for the team. The Warriors became human again, they became Thanos without the gauntlet and the Raptors seized the vulnerability surviving just long enough to win by 4 points with their championship lives hanging on that 0.9 seconds that felt like eternity.
Take nothing away from the Raptors and their Jurassic Park fans, this was a great series and the sports history books will remember the players that came together during all the trade chatter that saw some hometown favorites be shipped away for players that would be the impetus to this championship run, but as the party rages on and the dinosaurs find themselves ravaging the landscape of Toronto to the tune of “Started from the Bottom” and whatever new Drake songs he has dropped in celebration of his hometown win, remember that this was a wounded Warriors team that still pushed them to the brink of a Game 7, woe is he who does not feel the tremble that shakes California, the giants of the West Coast are already lurking and ready for their feast.