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Raptors capture first NBA title, beat Warriors in Game 6
 
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Kawhi Leonard raised his arms high in triumph and celebrated Canada's first NBA championship.

"We the North!" is now "We the Champs!"

Leonard and the Toronto Raptors captured the country's first major title in 26 years with their most remarkable road win yet in the franchise's NBA Finals debut, outlasting the battered and depleted two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors 114-110 on Thursday night in a Game 6 for the ages.

"I wanted to make history here. That's what I did," a soaking wet Leonard said, ski goggles perched on his forehead and sporting a fresh black champions hat.

Stephen Curry missed a contested 3-pointer in the waning moments before Golden State called a timeout it didn't have, giving Leonard a technical free throw with 0.9 seconds left to seal it. Leonard, the NBA Finals MVP for a second time, then got behind Andre Iguodala for a layup as the buzzer sounded, but it went to review and the basket was called off before Leonard's two free throws. That only delayed the celebration for a moment.

When it actually ended, the typically stoic Leonard could let it all out. A Canadian team -- and we're not talking hockey here -- stood on top of one of the traditional major sports leagues for the first time since the Toronto Blue Jays won the 1993 World Series.

Serge Ibaka pulled his head up through the hoop by the Golden State bench as the crowd chanted "Warriors! Warriors!" after a sensational send-off at Oracle Arena.

Curry walked away slowly, hands on his head on a night Splash Brother Klay Thompson suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and departed with 30 points.

Fred VanVleet rescued the Raptors down the stretch with his dazzling shooting from deep to score 22 points with five 3s off the bench, while Leonard wound up with 22 points. Kyle Lowry scored the game's first eight points and finished with 26 in all to go with 10 assists and seven rebounds.

Fans poured into the streets in Toronto, screaming and honking horns after the Raptors pulled off a third straight win on Golden State's home floor that said goodbye to NBA basketball after 47 seasons. And the Raptors did it with the very kind of depth that helped define Golden State's transformation into a dynasty the past five seasons.

This time, the Warriors were wounded.

Golden State already was down two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, who had surgery Wednesday for a ruptured right Achilles tendon. Then, the Warriors lost Thompson -- and they couldn't overcome just one more heartbreaking injury.

"A lot of bad breaks in the finals, to be honest," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "Like us, they kept on playing. We just had to keep on playing no matter who was out there. And I think they were super intense high-level games and both teams desperately trying to win."

This thrilling back-and-forth game featured 18 lead changes, nine ties and neither team going ahead by more than nine points.

Curry scored 21 points but shot just 6 for 17 and went 3 of 11 on 3s. Iguodala added 22 for his biggest game this postseason as the Warriors did everything until the very last moment to leave a lasting legacy at Oracle.

Thompson provided his own dramatic memory. He injured his knee when fouled by Danny Green on a drive at the 2:22 mark of the third, was helped off the court and walked partially down a tunnel toward the locker room, then -- shockingly -- re-emerged to shoot his free throws before going out again at 2:19. He didn't return and left the arena on crutches, and the Warriors announced that an MRI had confirmed the torn ACL.

"More than the what-ifs is just feeling bad for the players involved. Injuries are always part of the NBA season -- any professional sport, injuries play a huge role," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "It's just the nature of these injuries, the severity of these injuries. And we'll know more about Klay. But we can sit here and say, well, if this hadn't happened or that hadn't happened, that doesn't matter. What matters is Kevin Durant is going to miss next season with an Achilles tear and Klay suffered a knee injury."

In their best Bay Area version of Jurassic Park -- Toronto's jam-packed gathering spot to cheer the Raptors -- hundreds of red-clad fans stayed long after the game ended to watch the Larry O'Brien trophy ceremony. They waved the Maple Leaf and sang "O Canada" just as they did here after winning previously this series.

Lowry's hot start was almost fitting. It was the Toronto guard who got shoved on the sideline in Game 3 by Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens, now banned by the league and team for a year.

The Raptors, in their 24th season of existence, rallied from two games down to beat the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals then took down the mighty Warriors on their home floor to deny Golden State a three-peat.

The Raptors went 8 for 32 on 3s in a 106-105 Game 5 defeat as the Warriors staved off elimination Monday in Toronto. They started 5 of 6 from long range in this one and finished 13 of 33 and converted 23 of 29 free throws.

Curry and these Warriors never, ever count themselves out. Yet down 3-1 in their fifth straight NBA Finals, they didn't have the health it took to win the past two titles and three of the past four against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"This five-year run's been awesome but I definitely don't think it's over," Curry said.

TIP-INS

Raptors: Leonard scored 732 points this postseason and on Thursday passed Allen Iverson (723) for fourth place and Hakeem Olajuwon (725) for third on the NBA's single-postseason scoring list. James is second with 748 accomplished last year behind Michael Jordan's 759 points in 1992. ... Toronto 9-16 all-time at Oracle Arena but 4-0 overall this season.

Warriors: Thompson's 374 career postseason 3s passed James (370) for third place on the career playoff list, trailing only Curry (470) and Ray Allen (385). ... Thompson notched his second 30-point performance this postseason, 13th of his career and fourth in a finals game despite not playing the entire fourth quarter.

FOR OAKLAND

A gold rally towel read FOR OAK on one line and LAND on the next with the K and D lined up in white -- a clever way to also pay tribute to Durant with his initials "KD."

Kerr narrated a pregame tribute to Oracle's legacy on the big screen.

In the 2,070th game at Oracle, the Warriors sold out their 343rd consecutive game and said farewell at last to the place they called home nearly five decades. Now, Golden State will move its games, practices and day-to-day operations to new Chase Center in San Francisco beginning next season.

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Warriors vs. Raptors NBA Finals Game 6 score, takeaways: Kawhi Leonard fairy tale complete, Toronto wins first title
Leonard was named MVP to cap a story even Hollywood wouldn't believe
 

The Toronto Raptors are NBA champions for the the first time in franchise history. They secured the title with a 114-110 win over the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, taking the series 4-2.

An instant classic in every sense of the word, the two teams went back and forth from the opening tip until the final buzzer. There was once again another significant injury as Klay Thompson went down with a knee injury late in the third quarter, and left the arena on crutches. Golden State kept fighting, but shorthanded as they were, they couldn't quite find enough buckets down the stretch as Steph Curry's potential game-winning 3-pointer went awry. 

Kyle Lowry finished with 26 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Raptors. Pascal Siakam also went for 26, while Kawhi Leonard and Fred VanVleet each added 22 of their own. Thompson led the Warriors with 30 points, and Andre Iguodala chipped in 22 points. 

Here are six major takeaways from the Raptors' championship-securing victory:

1. Not a normal championship

Nothing about this NBA title the Raptors just won is normal. It is the first in the history of the franchise, for starters. These Finals finished with five straight road victories, which is almost impossible to believe. Kawhi Leonard comes to Toronto as a potential one-year rental, after sitting out basically the entire prior season, and ascends to perhaps the best player in the world when everyone kind of forgot about him to win Finals MVP. The last season for the Warriors at Oracle Arena. Kevin Durant misses the first four games, then guts his way back in Game 5, only to tear his Achilles tendon and completely alter not only these Finals, but the landscape of the entire league. Klay Thompson comes back after straining a hamstring and missing Game 3 to go nuclear in Game 6, only to tweak his knee and miss the entire fourth quarter. And somehow the Warriors are still in it, down one with under 10 seconds to play and the greatest shooter ever has a clean look to send it to a Game 7 and keep the hope of winning four titles in five years alive. And misses. 

If you wrote this script and pitched it to Hollywood, you'd get laughed out of the room. 

That would never happen. Make it at least halfway realistic. 

2. Give the Raptors all the credit

There is going to be a lot of talk about the Warriors' injuries, and clearly they impacted this series in a major way. But the Raptors won this series by making clutch shot after clutch shot. Kawhi Leonard was brilliant all series and all playoffs. Kyle Lowry? This man erased every doubt that has ever been laid upon his shoulders. He couldn't miss in the first quarter and finished with 26 points and 10 assists in a championship clincher. I'm telling you, this Warriors team, hobbled as it was, made Toronto earn every single inch of this title, and it did. The Raptors made the shots. They got the stops. They rotated and fought and rebounded and hit more shots and more shots and more shots, and they just wouldn't stop until they had the hardware. And now they do. Congratulations, Toronto. This is a special one. 

3. Give the Warriors credit, too

When it comes to the Warriors, we always think about the shooting and the glitz and glamour. We think of the show. But what doesn't get talked enough about is the heart of this team. That sounds so cliche, but it's so true. This team absolutely refuses to quit. They were on the ropes against Houston when Durant went down, and won two straight. They were on the ropes against these Raptors all series long. When they lost Durant in Game 5, so many teams would've laid down in that moment. The Warriors fought, and somehow won, and then when Klay goes out in Game 6, honestly, how do you find the resolve to keep playing and have a shot to win it at the end? Draymond Green. Stephen Curry. Andre Iguodala knocking shots down all over the court. Boogie Cousins goes from unplayable to vital cog making huge plays in the biggest moments. That's why you have to credit the Raptors so much, because the Warriors didn't lay down. They threw every punch they had in the bag, and Toronto was just better. 

4. Game 6 Klay shows up again

Thompson was phenomenal before he went down with a knee injury late in the third that we still don't know the extent of. He was on his way to carrying the Warriors to victory, hitting so many clutch shots it got hard to keep track. He finished with 30 points on 4-of-6 from deep, and the weight of some of those shots felt like much more than the points they were worth. When Klay injured his knee after being fouled, he limped off the court and into the locker room, only to be told if he didn't shoot the free throws, he couldn't return to the game. Out he came from the tunnel like Willis Reed to knock down two free throws. The Warriors then fouled to get him off the court, took him out, and he never returned. But his legacy lives on. This dude is a stud, plain and simple, and if the Warriors don't offer him a max contract to stay this offseason they would be the dumbest team in the league. I do not believe they are that. Klay will be back with Golden State. 

5. Fred VanVleet!!!!!!!!

There was a time in these playoffs when VanVleet was bordering on unplayable. But Nick Nurse stuck with him, and wow, what a payoff. To say VanVleet was huge in these Finals would be an understatement. Huge shot after huge shot. A one-man blanket on Stephen Curry. VanVleet finished with 22 points on 5 of 11 from 3, and a handful of those shots were of the backbreaking variety. They were the type of shots that win you championships. It wasn't just VanVleet -- Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, Normal Powell getting big minutes in a nail-biting closeout game, all of the "others" on the Raptors were, in fact, otherworldly in their contributions, but none more so that VanVleet. 

6. Steph Curry had a shot at immortality

With under 10 seconds to play on the heels of a Raptors turnover, the Warriors had the ball on the sideline down by one. Steve Kerr drew up a terrific play, clearing out the far side of the court for a pass over the top that diverted the defense's attention just enough for Curry to get a screen and fly open around the arc for a potential game-winning, legacy-defining 3. 

Quote

 

It wasn't to be. 

The Warriors call a timeout they didn't have! #NBAFinals pic.twitter.com/T2e5s0PN56

— TSN (@TSN_Sports) June 14, 2019

 

In that situation, when everyone in the building knows the Warriors are trying to get the ball to Curry, and he's been getting double and triple-teamed all game, to get him that open is as good a look as Golden State and Curry could've ever hoped for. Had he made that shot, his legacy would've gone to another level. He would've been immortal. Now, the people who believe he isn't a clutch player and can't be depended upon in the biggest of playoff moments, well, they still have their ammunition. It's probably not fair, but it is what it is. Curry had his shot, and he missed it. 

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A few random thoughts about the Raptors' NBA Title:

1. It's not just Drake....Geddy Lee must be very happy right now too.

2. This is the first major sports title for Toronto since the 1993 Blue Jays I believe.

3. Fred VanVleet was a very important player in this championship run.  He was coached in college by Gregg Marshall at Wichita State, and of course Marshall as we know is a native of Greenwood, SC.

4. Give props to Paul Pierce of ESPN who said the Raptors would win from the start of the series, and they did.

5. Skip Bayless is somewhere punching the air right now.

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Speaking of Chauncey Billups....

One of the reasons I really got on board with the Raptors this year in the playoffs was because this team reminds me so much of the 2004 Detroit Pistons (who likewise took down a powerhouse West coast squad in the Lakers, featuring Kobe and Shaq).  One really good player (Billups, Kawhi) and a ton of support from good players, that truly made this a team championship.

I was afraid they weren't going to get it done, but I am so glad that they did, and this restores some faith that anyone can win a title.

As they said, the NBA is wide open now.

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