OAKLAND, USA – The Toronto Raptors captured a historic NBA championship after pouncing on a Golden State Warriors side that lost another star to injury.
Kyle Lowry took charge as the Raptors dethroned the Warriors, 114-110, to bag the franchise’s first title after winning the best-of-seven series, 4-2, in Oakland on Thursday, June 13 (Friday, June 14, Philippine time).
Already playing without superstar Kevin Durant, the Warriors also lost streaky shooter Klay Thompson to a knee injury after landing awkwardly on his left leg late in the 3rd quarter of Game 6. Thompson still finished with a game-high 30 points.
Lowry led the Raptors with 26 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds, while Pascal Siakam had 26 points and 10 boards.
Golden State had a final shot to win, trailing 111-110, but Steph Curry missed a three-pointer and Draymond Green called a timeout when the team had none, setting up 3 final free throws by Kawhi Leonard to seal the victory.
Leonard earned the Finals Most Valuable Player award after averaging 28.5 points and 9.8 rebounds in the series.
“Last summer I was going through a lot. I just kept working hard and had my mind set on this goal right here,” Leonard said. “This is why I play basketball. This is what I work hard for. I’m glad to see it all pay off.”
The honor was the second in Leonard’s career after winning his first Finals MVP in 2014 with the San Antonio Spurs.
Leonard and reserve Fred VanVleet each scored 22 for the Raptors, while Serge Ibaka also delivered 15 points.
Andre Iguodala added 22 points for the Warriors, Curry had 21 and Green contributed 11 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists.
“Everybody on this team played with a lot of heart,” Green said. “We just came up a little short.”
Durant returned in Game 5 Monday after being sidelined for a month only to suffer a ruptured right Achilles tendon.
Toronto spoiled the Warriors’ farewell appearance at Oracle Arena. Golden State’s home since 1971 will be replaced by a new $1 billion venue in San Francisco next season.
The Raptors also became the first Canadian club to win a major North American sports title since the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays captured Major League Baseball’s World Series. – With a report from Agence France-Presse