Raptors make NBA history by defeating Warriors to win Finals
The Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors 114-110 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.
“Canada, we brought it home, baby. Canada, we brought it home,” Kyle Lowry emphatically said after the team was presented with the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy.
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Kawhi Leonard, who scored 22 points in Game 6, was named Finals MVP. This is the second time he received that honour — the first was when he was with the San Antonio Spurs.
There were unconfirmed reports a parade will be held in downtown Toronto on Monday. An announcement was scheduled to be made on Friday.
Thursday’s win caps a stunning playoff run for the Raptors. Toronto defeated the Orlando Magic, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks to face off in the Finals against the two-time defending champions.
Since the beginning of the 2018-19 season, Raptors President Masai Ujiri set the lofty goal of securing the top NBA title. The team acquired Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs along with Danny Green in exchange for DeMar DeRozan. Marc Gasol was later added to the roster at the trade deadline in February.
“We all know where my (preferred) destinations were (last summer),” Leonard said when asked to reflect on his trade to Toronto.
“But obviously like I said, when I was there on my opening-day meeting that I was focused on the now, and I wanted to make history here and that’s all I did. I’m still playing basketball no matter what jersey I have on.”
Toronto had a strong first quarter Thursday night and at one point led it by nine points. Kyle Lowry sunk four three-pointers and Pascal Siakam another two. Despite rotating leads in the second quarter, the Raptors went into the half ahead 60-57.
As the Warriors took a lead in the third quarter, Klay Thompson — who scored 30 points — suffered an apparent knee injury. He was briefly assessed by doctors before returning to the court to shoot two free throws on a foul, but left right after for further assessment. Toronto and Golden State were neck and neck in the remaining quarter, but the Raptors came out on top.
In the end, the Raptors showed a stronger offensive effort in Game 6. Toronto scored 13 three-pointers — three more than scored throughout Game 5. Golden State scored 11.
Lowry ended up scoring 26 points while Siakam got 26 points. Fred VanVleet scored 22 points.
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Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry followed Thompson in scoring for the Warriors, getting 22 and 21 points respectively.
Nick Nurse, who was appointed head coach of the Raptors at the beginning of the 2018-19 after Dwane Casey was fired, reflected on all the changes the team faced over the past season.
“It was a heck of a 12 months … I just try to take things as they come,” he told reporters Thursday night.
“It was a great group. They really played together. I thought they really fought hard. They were tough-minded … Two months of playoff basketball, they never seemed tired to me mentally. They kept wanting the film sessions, they kept wanting to walk through things, they kept wanting to keep learning and improving.”
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr congratulated the Raptors on their win Thursday night.
“They’re a fantastic basketball team — great defensively, they share the ball, play a beautiful style, a lot of great two-way players,” he said.
“Winning a championship is an ultimate in this league and they’ve got a lot of guys who’ve earned this. So congrats to Toronto, to their organization, to their fans — they are a worthy champion.”
Thursday’s matchup at Oracle Arena marked the last game to be held at the facility. Golden State will be moving to the new Chase Center in San Francisco as of the 2019-20 NBA season.
Back in Toronto, thousands of fans who attended Jurassic Park and surrounding streets outside the arena took over the streets in celebration of the Raptors. People could be seen on vehicles and climbing signs.
Other cities in Ontario, such as Mississauga, Barrie, Kitchener, Burlington, and in Canada held viewing parties on Thursday and throughout the NBA Finals.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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