The Toronto Raptors claimed their first NBA title on the Golden State Warriors’ floor-the last game at Oracle Arena. In October, many would have viewed that scenario as a pipe dream, but the underdogs knocked off a reeling champion.
The Warriors only saw 12 minutes of Kevin Durant because of calf and Achilles injuries. Klay Thompson missed Game 3 with a hamstring ailment and tore his ACL in Game 6. Still, Steve Kerr’s group pushed for a rare three-peat, but the Raptors had a little more firepower.
We saw stellar performances and jaw-dropping highlights throughout the 2019 NBA Finals, with two heavyweight clubs going shot-for-shot down the stretch in multiple games. Let’s take a look at the biggest moments from the championship series between the Raptors and Warriors.
Pascal Siakam Blocks Draymond Green (Game 1)
In past NBA Finals, we have watched LeBron James smash layups against the glass in defining moments. This time, Most Improved Player candidate Pascal Siakam put an exclamation point on his outstanding Game 1 performance with a block on Draymond Green.
Siakam shadowed Green all the way to the hoop and timed his leap perfectly to reject the shot. At the time, Toronto led Golden State 103-92 with six minutes and 11 seconds left in regulation. The Raptors forward finished with 32 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks.
Andre Iguodala’s 4th-Quarter Dagger (Game 2)
Stephen Curry nearly turned over the ball with a reckless pass to Shaun Livingston, but the Warriors maintained possession and found Andre Iguodala all alone behind the three-point line. He had enough time to set his stance and knock down a triple to seal the victory.
At that moment, the Warriors held a two-point lead, but a long miss could have sparked a fast-break opportunity at the buzzer on the other end. Iguodala had a little more time to drain the shot clock, but critics can’t argue against a big bucket in the clutch.
Danny Green on Fire in Game 3
Danny Green put together his best performance in Game 3; he shot all 10 attempts behind the three-point line and made six of them.
During the Western Conference Final, the Warriors routinely erased the Portland Trail Blazers’ first-half leads in the third quarter. Green didn’t allow that to happen with the series tied. He scorched the net on three shots beyond the arc during the third frame of the contest.
Kawhi Leonard Puts Raptors Up 16 Points in 4th Quarter (Game 4)
Kawhi Leonard didn’t have to carry the entire weight of the Raptors across the finish line in the championship series. He earned the 2019 NBA Finals MVP, but his supporting cast provided significant help along the way.
With that said, Leonard took over Game 4. He shot 11-of-22 from the field, 5-of-9 behind the three-point line and dominated the Warriors down the stretch. The three-time All-Star reached his spots on the court and scored 36 points-his highest total in the series.
Leonard’s open three-pointer in the corner brought a rise out of Raptors’ fans back at Jurassic Park in Toronto as the club went up 3-1 in the series.
Klay Thompson Knocks Down Go-Ahead 3-Pointer (Game 5)
Durant tore his Achilles early in the second quarter of Game 5, which put the Splash Brothers back in the spotlight. Right on cue, Curry and Thompson scored the last nine points to extend the series.
Curry led the team in scoring for this contest (31 points), but Thompson had a more efficient night from three-point land, hitting 7-of-13. His final triple kept the Warriors alive for a three-peat.
Fred VanVleet’s 3-Pointer Gives Raptors Late Lead (Game 6)
On paper, Fred VanVleet lists as the Raptors’ backup point guard, but he’s the unsung hero of the 2019 NBA Finals. He received an MVP vote from ESPN’s Hubie Brown. Leonard deserved the honors, but the 25-year-old played a vital role in the closeout game.
VanVleet averaged 14 points in the series, but he saved his best performance for Game 6, scoring 22 points, which included a perfect 5-of-5 at the free-throw line and 5-of-11 from three-point territory.
His last triple put the Raptors into a 104-101 lead, and Toronto held on to the advantage for the remainder of the game. He became a major player in a crucial moment, putting his stamp on the series with a career high in points.