In a game where the Raptors should have won the Larry O’Brien trophy, the Splash brothers saved the day and Kawhi went nuts in the fourth, there was one story-line that took main stage: Kevin Durant. He finally returned, he played a phenomenal first quarter and then he may have torn his Achilles. Game 5 was truly unbelievable.
Toronto Raptors (3-2) v Golden State Warriors (2-3): 105 to 106
The extent of Durant’s injury is still unknown but it changed the game, shook the league and will likely completely alter the looming free agency.
There are so many story lines within this injury: the Toronto fans cheering when Durant got injured, Bob Myers holding back tears in his press conference, giving one of the most honest and refreshing conferences I have ever seen from a GM, then there were the questions of: did Durant come back to early? Who is to blame for the injury? How will this alter his free agency? These storylines overpower what was a very intriguing Game 5.
For the sake of the league and for the sake of Durant, let’s hope his injury is just an Achilles strain and that he is fine for New York in the offseason but for now let’s focus on one of the most unpredictable finals series in recent NBA history.
Golden State came out firing in the first quarter to start the game. The Death Line up was finally back with Durant feeling good and having a huge impact straight away. Durant was 3-5 with 11 points to start and curry was perfect with 3-3. The Warriors were cooking.
Then Durant goes down and the entire game changes, the Warriors spurred on by sadness come out firing in the second half giving them their largest lead of the game with a 12-point margin. DeMarcus Cousins was great off the bench with 14 points in 20 minutes, providing much needed offence, especially with Kevon Looney getting injured again. Boogie did have his struggles, especially at the end of the game with two pivotal goal tends that could have cost the Warriors the game. Despite his sloppy game 1, 3 and 4, Boogie finally had an impact on the game that was necessary for the Warriors to have any chance of winning.
Draymond Green had a good game, hitting an open three in the fourth to keep the Warriors alive amidst a Kawhi run but really the game came down to the two best splash shooters in this series: Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Down six with 3 minutes to go, Klay hit a three, then Steph hit a three and then with 57 seconds left, Thompson hits the dagger three. It was master class in three point shooting by two of the best sharp shooters ever.
The splash brothers saved the day with a 9-2 run to finish the game. Steph ended up with 31 points, 7 assists and 8 rebounds while Klay had 26 points (7-13 from three). The Warriors were very hot from three with 20-42 in the game (just a clip under 48%) which saved them in this game.
But really this entire game was a game of runs, 10-0 by the warriors and then 10-0 by Kawhi and small 6-0 runs in between.
Lets turn to the Raptors. Kawhi was silenced in the third being held to just one point but then single handily went on a 10-0 run in the fourth that looked akin to the Goat himself: Michael Jordan. He scored with ease down the stretch and with each shot you thought: he just won them the game.
The run started with a pass from Kawhi to Norman Powell leading to a monster dunk that Steve Kerr thought was a travel. This emphatic dunk spurred a Kawhi run that seemed to give them the championship and then in the last three minutes they went cold, bar a tough layup by Lowry to give them the final shot at the buzzer.
Lowry seemingly had an open three to win the game and the championship but with a slight block from Draymond, Kyle Lowry’s shot goes astray and the Raptors lose the game, and lose perhaps their best chance at winning the championship.
While Pascal Siakam and Danny Green (who missed all his threes 0-4) struggled offensively once again looking scared to shoot, the rest of the Raptors team had a decent offensive game with 17 points off 6 shots for Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry continuing his incredible run with 18 points, 6 assists and 2 blocks and Fred VanVleet hitting clutch 3s for 11 points. Serge Ibaka was fantastic again with huge offensive boards and a block to go along with 15 points (5-8 shooting) to continue having a huge impact on this series.
On paper, Kawhi Leonard looked like he had an average game: 9-24 for 26 points with 12 boards and five turnovers. BUT if you were watching the fourth quarter, you would know that without Kawhi’s heroic run the Raptors would have lost this game by 15. He is still the best player in this series and reminds us time and time again.
The Raptors played well until the final few minutes and really should have won this game and sealed the series, but alas the Splash Brothers were just too much so now we head back to Oracle for a completely unpredictable Game 6 and the official final game at Oracle Arena. I can’t wait!
Next Game @ Toronto: Friday 15 June at 11am