The 2019 NBA Championship Series — Raptors and Warriors


By Ron Griffitts

Contributing columnist

In spring 2019, the Toronto Raptors (58-24), appearing in their first ever NBA Finals, coached by Nick Nurse with executive Masai Ujiri met the Golden State Warriors appearing in their fifth straight finals coached by Steve Kerr with Bob Myers as general manager.

To get to the finals, the Raptors defeated the Orlando Magic 4-1, the Philadelphia 76ers 4-3 and the Milwaukee Bucks 4-1. They were led by Kahwi Leonard (26.6 ppg, 7.3 rpb), Kyle Lowry (14.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 8.7 apg), Pascal Siakam (16.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg), Danny Green (10.3 ppg, 4 rpg), Fred VanFleet (11.0 ppg, 4.8 apg) and Serge Ibaka (15.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg).

The Warriors got past the Los Angeles Clippers 4-2, Houston Rockets 4-2 and the Portland Trail Blazers 4-0 to get to the finals. They were led by Kevin Durant (26.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 5.9 apg), Stephen Curry (27.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.2 apg), Klay Thompson (21.5 ppg), Dremond Green (7.3 rpg, 6.9 apg), and DeMarcus Cousins (16.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg).

The first ever NBA Finals game in Canada was played in Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada with the Warrior’s star Kevin Durant out with a calf injury. Without him, the Warriors were a different team and Toronto led throughout most of the game for a 118-109 win and 1-0 series advantage.

Stephen Curry led Golden State with 34 points while Klay Thompson added 21. Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 32 points and 8 rebounds, Kahwi Leonard had 23 points and 8 rebounds, Mark Gasol added 20 points and 7 rebounds and Kyle Lowry had 9 assists.

The Warriors rebounded in game two behind a 17 point, 10 rebound, and 9 assist game from Dremond Green as Pasal Siakam made only 5 of 18 field goal attempts. Golden State tied up the series 1-1 with a 109-104 win.

Kahwi Leonard led Toronto with 34 points, including 16 for 16 from the free throw line, and 14 rebounds while Stephen Curry scored 23 and Klay Thompson 25 points for Golden State.

For game three, the teams switched to Oracle Arena in Oakland, California where the Raptors took a 36-29 lead after the first quarter and went on to a 123-109 win. Kyle Lowry had 23 points and 9 assists and Kahwi Leonard had 30 points for Toronto while Stephen Curry had one of his best games ever with 47 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists.

In game four, Golden State led 46-42 at halftime but Toronto outscored them 37-21 in the third quarter to take control of the game and go on to a 105-92 victory as the Raptors go up 3-1 in the series.

Kahwi Leonard led Toronto with 36 points and 12 rebounds, including five three pointers while Stephen Curry had 27 points and Klay Thompson 28 for the Warriors.

Game five was significant in that Kevin Durant returned after suffering a calf injury earlier in the playoffs. After scoring 11 points, he had to leave the game in the second quarter with another injury and was out for the rest of the series.

Golden State went on to a 106-105 win to pull within one game of the Raptors at 3 games to 2 as Stephen Curry scored 31 points and Klay Thompson 26. Kahwi Leonard contributed 28 points and 12 rebounds for the Raptors. Losing Durant, who was one of the two or three best players in the NBA, was difficult for the Warriors.

Game six was in Oakland and was close throughout with Golden State holding an 88-86 lead after three quarters of play. But Toronto seeking their first NBA title ever outscored Golden State by six points in the final quarter on their way to a 114-110 victory to win the game and the NBA title.

Klay Thompson led Golden State with 30 points while Andre Iguadala had 22 and Steph Curry 21. For the winning Raptors, Kyle Lowry had 26 points and 10 assists, Pascal Siakam had 26 points and 10 rebounds and Kahwi Leonard had 22 points.

Kahwi Leonard won his second finals MVP award as he also won with San Antonio in 2014. Golden State returned to the finals in 2022 while Toronto has not been back to the NBA finals.

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