When the NBA Finals first began, the Toronto Raptors were the consensus fan favorite – it seemed to me like everyone was ready to see the Golden State Dynasty fall. The Raptors had it all:
– A quiet and humble star in Kawhi Leonard, who’s the kind of player you’d tell your kid to be like when teaching them the game because he’s so technically sound in every basketball-related thing he does.
– An A-list celebrity rapper in Drake, who’s been on the top of his troll game during this series with his antics.
– The city entire of Toronto, and the public square in it called Jurassic Park, an area where Raptors fans gather outside to watch the games on a massive TV screen. That place always looks like it has a crazy and fun atmosphere, one that I’d like to observe in person once in my life.
But then Game 5 happened on Monday, and if you were on social media that night, there seemed to be a shift in which team the public wanted to win the series.
The Warriors powered through the adversity of losing Kevin Durant to an Achilles rupture early in the game. And when Leonard went scorched-earth in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 straight points to give Toronto a 103-97 lead with 3 minutes left, the Warriors took advantage of an ill-timed Raptors timeout and came out on fire with a trio of 3-pointers – two from Klay Thompson and one from Steph Curry – from the Splash Brothers.
Golden State won the game, 106-105, and showed about as much heart as a team could in that situation – showing heart goes a long way with the public. It’s a massive positive.
With all the injuries they’ve had to overcome – whether it’s Andre Iguodala’s leg or Kevon Looney’s collar bone or Klay’s hamstring or Steph’s busted fingers – the Warriors still fought and clawed their way to the win with only two shooters, Thompson and Curry, on the court.
Then afterwards in the postgame press conferences, Thompson and Curry were both on the verge of tears when talking about Durant. When those two answered questions about Durant’s likely career-impacting injury, they weren’t talking about Durant as a basketball player, they were talking as if they lost a friend – maybe forever – with Durant’s upcoming free agency.
I know what you’re thinking: Cry me a river, Golden State. Durant got hurt and couldn’t play, but the Warriors still have two of the best shooters in basketball history on the court.
Yes, that’s true, Golden State still has a couple all-world players in Steph and Klay, but this current team is a shell of what we’ve come to expect from Golden State. Something deep inside me wants the Warriors to come back and win this thing.
Watching the Warriors play their heart out Monday flipped the script for me, and now I’m rooting for them to pull this off. It would really be something if they can.
Everyone have a good Friday.