What started as a rapturous evening brimming with hope soon turned into a silence heard nationwide as the Toronto Raptors fell 106-105 to the Golden State Warriors.
Prior to the loss, hundreds gathered Monday night at London’s Dundas Place for the city’s own version of Jurassic Park, the fan zone outside Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena.
A large screen set up on Dundas Street, just east of Ridout Street, displayed Game 5 of the NBA Finals for London’s own crowd of Raptors’ fans.
Many of the faithful, including Abhliash Gautam, hoped to see Canadian basketball history in-the-making. A win on Monday would have brought Toronto, and Canada, its first-ever NBA Championship in its 24-year franchise history.
“The momentum’s in our favour. Steph Curry hasn’t been the Curry like I know,” Gautam said.
Another fan named Tristan saw a reason to believe in a certain Raptor.
“I think Kyle Lowry’s going to go off this game… I think he’s going to carry the team,” Tristan said.
“Even if Golden State does win tonight, I feel like Raps are going to win the next game anyway.”
Meantime, a Londoner named Talia had a simple prediction for Global News Radio 980 CFPL.
“Raps in five, we’re taking it.”
As the sun went down on Dundas Place, so too did the chance that the Raptors would capture an NBA Championship in only five games.
Despite a strong burst in fourth quarter, the Warriors forced Game 6 after beating Toronto 106-105.
Fans in London chose to take the loss on the chin, keeping in mind two chances remain for the Raptors to win-it-all.
“Canada has the Raptors’ back. We’re coming back Game 6, we’re taking it from Oakland, they’ve got nothing left,” said a fan named Dallas, whose remarks were supported by cheers from his friends nearby.
The show must go on
Regardless of the loss, there was no denying that Monday night’s viewing party drew Londoners to Dundas Place.
An ongoing collaborative effort with the City of London, much of the groundwork was laid by Savanah Sewell, manager for Dundas Place.
“There is energy, there are families, there’s an amazing game happening… it’s obviously exactly what this is meant to be,” Sewell said, adding that no one could have predicted the Raptors would have made it so far into the NBA Finals
“It’s such a positive moment for us all. Not only as London and as Dundas Place, but as a country… it is a part of history for Dundas, but it’s also history for Canada.”
Sewell added that Dundas Place will continue to host viewing parties for the remainder of the NBA Finals.
Game 6 goes Thursday in Oakland with tip off set for 9 p.m.
If necessary, Game 7 takes place Sunday inside Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena. That game will have an earlier tip off of 8 p.m.
You can find more photos from Monday night’s viewing party at Dundas Place below.