Posted on June 11, 2019, by Travis Pulver
Golden State fans had a reason to be excited heading into Game Five of the NBA Finals Monday night. Yes, they were down 1-3 and playing on the road. If they were going to win the NBA Finals, they would need to do something historic—and it wouldn’t be easy.
But there was a good reason to think they could do it, starting with a win in Game Five—Kevin Durant was coming back.
He had been off for over a month with a calf muscle injury suffered in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals. But had been cleared to practice and survived a brief practice relatively intact. However, with the season on the line, the Warriors definitely needed him.
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Could the win without him? Sure—but they weren’t. So, he came back, and the Warriors looked ready to reassert their dominance from the start Monday night. Durant hit three three-pointers and hit a couple of free throws for 11-points in the quarter as the Warriors took a 34-28 lead after one.
But then it happened— Durant went down, again.
Except for this time, it didn’t look like just a calf strain; it appeared to be a little more serious. While the Warriors were cautiously optimistic when Durant went down against Houston, this time they said the feared he tore his Achilles.
An MRI on Tuesday will confirm the extent of the injury, but it sure didn’t look good.
Golden State went on to lead by as much as 13 in the quarter, but Toronto was able to close the gap to six by the end of the half, 62-56. But, it didn’t get any better for the Raptors in the third quarter, either.
They fell behind by 14 about midway through. However, they were able to close the gap back down to six heading into the fourth quarter.
Golden State had managed to retain control of the game despite losing Durant. But the Raptors were not about to let a chance to eliminate the Warriors go without a fight. They steadily closed the gap in the fourth and took the lead, 96-95, following a 26-footer by Kawhi Leonard with about five minutes to go.
Toronto extended the lead out to six points, 103-97, with 3:28 to play. But the Warriors were not about to quit, either. A three-pointer by Klay Thompson and another by Steph Curry tied it up at 103-103 with 1:22 to go. Another by Thompson with 57.6 second left gave the Warriors the lead once again.
Kyle Lowry got the Raptors within one with 29.9 seconds left, but when he had a chance to win it with a three-pointer as time expires—he missed.
“Even going down six with three minutes left, their ball, we didn’t panic,” Thompson said after the game, via ESPN. “We just do what we do.”
Steph Curry led the way for the Warriors with 31 points and went 5-14 from three-point range followed by Klay Thompson with 26 (7-13 from three-point range). Draymond Green turned in another quality game with ten points, ten rebounds, and eight assists.
As a team, the Warriors hit an incredible 20 three-pointers (20-42). Toronto, on the other hand, struggled to hit from beyond the arc making just eight of 32 attempts.
While Toronto did have six guys score in double figures, it was the missed shots that cost them a series-clinching win. Kawhi Leonard struggled with his shot hitting just nine of 24 from the floor and two of seven from three-point range for 26 points. Kyle Lowry scored 18 and was eight of 16 from the floor but only one of six from three-point range.
Game Six will be back in Oakland on Thursday. The Warriors are favored to win by three.