The Golden State Warriors’ dominance of the league reached its conclusion when the Toronto Raptors finished off a Game 6 victory to win the 2019 NBA Finals.
In the decisive contest―as they’d done throughout the series―the Raptors overwhelmed Golden State on the offensive end. Kawhi Leonard was a consistent force, but role players stepped into the spotlight for Toronto. That depth carried the Raptors past a battered and bruised, yet persistent, Warriors squad.
Although injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson put Golden State in a hole, the clear takeaway was Toronto had the better team on the floor. This championship was no fluke; the Eastern Conference champions deserved the confetti.
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Looking back at the six-game series, a few stats and trends clearly shaped the result in this year’s Finals.
When the Raptors had an efficient night shooting three-pointers, they pulled out a win. Toronto posted a 39.0 percent mark in four victories but stumbled to a 27.1 clip in two losses.
Fred VanVleet provided the largest long-range impact, hitting a team-best 16 with several exceptionally timely trifectas late in games. The Wichita State product also buried 5-of-11 threes in Game 6 when he posted a playoff-high 22 points.
Danny Green’s six triples played a pivotal role in Game 3, while Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam combining for seven three-pointers helped the Raptors avoid a slow start on the road in Game 6.
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Leonard, meanwhile, paced Toronto with 28.5 points per game and seemed to provide a game-changing run each night. Leonard posted a 15-point third quarter in Game 3, a 17-point third quarter in Game 4 and a 10-point spurt late in Game 5.
The All-Star forward earned his second career Finals MVP, though the Raptors’ team defense was a huge reason for their success.
Golden State averaged 117.3 points while shooting 48.7 percent in 16 postseason games to reach the NBA Finals. Even without Durant and Cousins in the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors tallied 114.8 points per game with a field-goal clip of exactly 49 percent.
Toronto dropped those numbers to 105.8 and 44.8, respectively.
Led by Lowry and VanVleet, the Raptors constantly trapped and sent extra defenders to disrupt Stephen Curry ―who still managed to contribute a Finals-best 30.5 points with six assists per game.
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The key for Toronto, though, was limiting everyone else beyond Curry and Thompson. The Raptors typically did exactly that, beyond the occasional surge from Andre Iguodala and DeMarcus Cousins.
And, yes, there’s the elephant in the room.
The Raptors have no motive to apologize. They should not be compelled to minimize their accomplishments. But no reasonable person will argue Toronto didn’t also benefit from enormous injury luck.
Golden State took advantage of such unfortunate issues to opponents in the past― Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul, notably―but felt the brunt of the pain in 2019.
Durant missed four games, then ruptured his Achilles in Game 5. Thompson missed Game 3 because of a hamstring injury and tore the ACL in his left knee in Game 6. Cousins barely recovered in time to start the series, and Kevon Looney played through a fracture near his chest after leaving Game 2 early and missing Game 3.
Nobody is suggesting the All-Star-filled Warriors should receive sympathy cards. But with suspect depth emerging as a problem during the regular season anyway, Golden State didn’t have enough quality on the bench to handle Toronto.
Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR