The Toronto Raptors are getting a second chance at a first NBA Title when they tip-off against the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Thursday in Oakland.
The Raptors were two minutes away from securing Canada’s first-ever NBA title Monday in Game 5 before falling victim to a barrage of 3-pointers from Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry in a 9-2 finish that was historic on several levels.
Monday’s 106-105 final not only produced the first one-point Finals margin since 2007, but it also made the Warriors just the sixth team in NBA history to win a potential elimination game on the road.
The Toronto Raptors are getting a second chance at a first NBA Title when they tip-off against the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Thursday in Oakland
The Raptors were two minutes away from securing Canada ‘s first-ever NBA title Monday in Game 5 before falling victim to a barrage of 3-pointers from Klay Thompson (left) and Stephen Curry (right) in a 9-2 finish that forced Game 6 in Oakland on Thursday night
As has become customary in the NBA, all attendees at the Finals will get a free T-shirt
History remains on the Raptors’ side entering Game 6, even though the scene has shifted back to Oakland. Of the 34 teams that have led a Finals 3-1, 33 have gone on to win the championship. The only exception was the Warriors in 2016, when the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied to win in seven games.
‘We understand that the moment is the moment, but we still are staying in it,’ Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said Wednesday. ‘We’re not too up, we’re not too down. We’re just one game, hey, we lost it, now we got to move on to the next one.’
Exacerbating matters for Golden State has been the loss of Kevin Durant, who returned from a calf injury to score 11 points in 12 minutes in Game 5, only to sustain a ruptured Achilles in the same leg. Durant is expected to miss the majority of next season, if not the entire 2019-2020 campaign.
Warriors players and fans were outraged during Game 5 when a contingent of Raptors supporters appeared to cheer Durant’s injury, even as Toronto veterans Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry attempted to hush them and pat the rival star on the back.
‘I expect our fans to be the loudest they have ever been, especially in the name of Kevin and bringing his type of spirit he would bring to the fight and the competitiveness,’ Warriors guard Klay Thompson said Wednesday. ‘I know our fans will do that because we deserve it, but more importantly, Kevin does for what he gave this team, this organization. There wouldn’t be banners if it wasn’t for his presence.’
The game will be the Warriors’ last at Oracle Arena, which opened as the Oakland Coliseum Arena 47 years ago. Golden State will move to the Chase Center in San Francisco next season. ‘This has been just an incredible environment in which to coach and play back in the day,’ Warriors coach Steve Kerr (pictured) said Wednesday
Raptors coach Nick Nurse said he’s not surprised the road team has won four of the first five games in the best-of-seven. ‘Both teams are really good road teams and have been all season,’ he said. ‘Two really tough-minded teams playing, and you got to be a little more tough-minded on the road. And I think a lot of those games probably could have went either way’
The game will be the Warriors’ last at Oracle Arena, which opened as the Oakland Coliseum Arena 47 years ago. Golden State will move to the Chase Center in San Francisco next season.
‘This has been just an incredible environment in which to coach and play back in the day,’ Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday. ‘Even when the Warriors weren’t any good, to come in here as a visitor and feel the energy in this building, you could tell that the fans loved the game.
‘This was a basketball hotbed. And just the atmosphere out there, the energy, the noise, over the last five years with our team’s rise, combined with that organic energy that this place has always had, it’s just been an incredible experience to coach here.’
That energy wasn’t enough to prevent Raptors wins in Games 3 and 4 after the Warriors earned a split in the two series-opening games in Toronto.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse said Wednesday he’s not surprised the road team has won four of the first five games in the best-of-seven.
‘Both teams are really good road teams and have been all season,’ he said. ‘Two really tough-minded teams playing, and you got to be a little more tough-minded on the road. And I think a lot of those games probably could have went either way.’
The team that had the upper hand in 3-point shooting has prevailed in the first five games of the series.
The Raptors outscored the Warriors 120-96 from beyond the arc in their three wins, while Golden State had a 99-57 dominance in long-range points in its two victories.
In an Instagram message posted from his hospital bed in New York on Wednesday, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant confirmed that he did rupture his Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night in Toronto
As for Durant, the former NBA MVP is likely to start rehabbing his surgically-repaired Achilles tendon almost immediately. And according to a specialist at the Mayo Clinic, he should be back to full strength within a year.
There are no guarantees, however, that Durant will ever feel quite the same after Wednesday’s surgery, said Nancy Cummings, an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic and head orthopedic surgeon for the Minnesota Lynx Women’s NBA team.
‘It takes about a year to get all your strength back in that muscular complex,’ she said in a telephone interview with Reuters.
‘I think it’s fair to say athletes will put higher demands on it when it’s recovered, so that will take a longer time and some people will never feel totally the same after this injury.’
Recent history of NBA players who have ruptured an Achilles shows that they are out of action for about nine months on average.
So even if Durant makes a speedier-than-normal recovery, he is unlikely to be back much before the start of next season’s playoffs.
Durant, 30, has the option to become a free agent this summer, so there is no guarantee the two-times NBA Finals’ most valuable player will even be with the Warriors next season.
Cummings said knowledge of the best way to rehabilitate a ruptured Achilles had advanced in recent years.
‘When I started my training in the ’80s it was more ‘we’ll fix it and immobilize it’ (but) tendons like to move,’ she said.
‘A functional rehab is better than a static rehab.’
Which is good news for professional athletes like Durant.
‘Pro athletes have nothing but time afterwards to rehab so they’re at an advantage,’ she said.
‘It starts almost straight away. We give them 10 days to let the incision calm down and then start to have them put weight on it in a functional brace or boot that allows tendon to see some stress.
‘You start some exercises such as toe curls and things like that to get muscles around the Achilles moving.
‘At about three months we start doing some light jogging if all looks well, and gradual return to sports specific activity, but that tissue that is repaired has to mature some and that typically is about the six-month mark.’
Cummings knew immediately when Durant sustained the injury that it was a ruptured Achilles.
‘You see his heel drop down and calf muscle reverberate,’ she said. ‘It looks very ballistic. I knew the diagnosis the second I saw it.’
The New York tabloids saw Durant’s injury as being particularly damaging for the Knicks
Durant’s injury not only devastated Warriors fans, but also the supporters of the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and Los Angeles Clippers, all of whom were reportedly interested in signing the two-time NBA Finals MVP this summer.
The only fans who did not seem upset over Durant’s Achilles injury were few who cheered after the 7foot forward went down on Monday in Toronto.
‘It was bulls***,’ Warriors guard Klay Thompson said after Game 5. ‘That was freaking ridiculous. I can’t even put into words how mad I was about that.’
Some Raptors fans have attempted to make amends, including one anonymous Canadian who decided to send flowers instead.
According to NBC Sports, the Raptors fan sent a floral arrangement to the Warriors offices in downtown Oakland to apologize ‘on behalf of Canada’.
The basket contained an assortment of carnations and a ribbon reading, ‘Canada is sorry KD.’
‘Dear KD and the Warriors: I can’t even believe those dumba** Raptors fans cheered when they saw you were injured,’ the card read, according to NBC Sports. ‘I was watching the game and felt horrible. It was a total disgrace. I hereby apologize on behalf of Canada. Prayers for recovery.’
A GoFundMe page launched by a suburban Toronto man has raised nearly $30,000 for the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation.
The satirical newspaper, The Onion, poked fun a Myers’s perceived lack of sympathy for Durant
The organizer, Hamzah Moin, said he started the fundraiser to support Durant after some Toronto Raptors fans seemingly reacted with joy when the Golden State Warriors star ruptured his Achilles in the second quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night. Durant had surgery to repair his Achilles on Wednesday.
The Raptors lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Thursday night in Oakland, Calif.
‘On behalf of the level-headed and true fans of Raptor Nation – from Toronto to Vancouver to Iqaluit to St. John’s, and any fans living outside Canada: we wanted to say `sorry’,’ Moin wrote.
‘We’re sorry that some fans of Raptor Nation at the Scotiabank arena, Jurassic Park, and in some bars/restaurants showing the game, displayed an ugly side of fandom when they cheered on the injury of Kevin Durant.
‘This isn’t cool. This isn’t right. This isn’t what I expect from fellow Canadians.’
Moin set a goal of $40,000 for the fundraiser. Through mid-day Thursday in Toronto, it had taken in $27,649 from more than 1,000 donors.
On its website, the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation says its mission ‘is to enrich the lives of at-risk youth from low-income backgrounds through education, athletic and social programs.’
While some Toronto Raptors fans could be heard cheering when Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant went down with an Achilles injury in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night, one citizen from the famously polite country decided to send flowers instead