It feels like a blast from the past re-visiting the Toronto Raptors’ enchanting post-season run that earned them the 2019 NBA Championship just two short years ago.
The Raptors versus Golden State series was such an exciting time for Toronto sports fans. After a long playoff battle with some of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors captured the first NBA championship title in franchise history. They defeated the Warriors 4-2 across a six-game series.
Capturing the NBA title ignited Raptors’ fans across the country, and all over the world. Below, we’ve listed some of the defining moments of the series that saw the Raptors beat the Warriors in the 2019 NBA finals.
Toronto Raptors’ Road To The Finals
The Toronto Raptors’ 2019 season was one of the most anticipated in franchise history. Team President and phenom Masai Ujiri conducted a blockbuster trade in the summer of 2018, prior to the season’s start.
He traded fan-favourite DeMar DeRozan, one of the greatest Raptors in franchise history, to the San Antonio Spurs. Masai also dealt Jakob Poeltll and a protected first-round draft pick. In return, the team received five-time NBA All-Star Kawhi Leonard, along with sharp shooter and defender Danny Green. The move was seen as controversial due to DeRozan’s popularity, and the fact that he hadn’t been consulted with prior to the trade.
The Raptors saw success as they headed into the 2018-19 season with two new stars and a new head coach, Nick Nurse. After adding Marc Gasol to the lineup in February, the team finished the regular season with a 58-24 record.
They defeated the Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Milwaukee Bucks in the first three rounds of the playoffs before matching up with the Warriors in the finals.
Raptors Versus Golden State: Series’ Defining Moments
Siakam’s Game 1 Performance
In the first win of the Raptors versus Golden State series, Pascal Siakam dominated on the court.
Siakam shot 14 for 17, scoring 32 points total. He also shot a perfect 6-for-6 in the third quarter of the game. He contributed greatly to the defensive system, ultimately allowing the Raptors to take game 1.
Siakam achieved a playoff career-high in points, which sparked an all-star level performance throughout the rest of the series. His strong showing in game 1 fired up the team and showed the kind of intensity and grit that it would take to capture the finals W.
His dominating performance also fired up Raptors fans, giving them hope that they had the chance to beat the back-to-back champions – which they ultimately did!
Kawhi Leonard: Board Man Gets Paid
There is absolutely no denying the extreme impact that Kawhi Leonard had on the Raptors success in the 2018-19 season. Having a megastar like Kawhi in the city energized fans and the organization, helping them lock in when playoff time rolled around. He averaged a massive 28.5 points per game across the championship series.
There was a really fun culture that emerged out of Kawhi’s awesome NBA finals performance. His demeanour during the finals was so serious – the man meant business! The Raptors organization, along with fans, got a huge kick out of Kawhi’s antics. In the midst of the series, a report came out about Kawhi’s time at San Diego State University and his iconic trash talking phrase, “board man gets paid”.
Kawhi’s performance, paired with the emergence of his hilarious trash talk, energized Raptors fans even further. Kawhi had all of us captivated by his talent, and, his shy yet hilarious personality. This moment truly brought Raptors fans closer to the man that helped bring the city of Toronto their first NBA championship.
Lowry Gets Heated, Shoved By A Fan
Game three of the Raptors versus Golden State series saw one of the most surprising (or arguably, the worst) moments of the series.
Kyle Lowry was on fire, scoring 23 points and nailing five 3-pointers. Unfortunately, while chasing after a loose ball, Lowry fell into the crowd and was subsequently shoved and screamed at by a fan. That fan turned out to be Mark Stevens, a millionaire investor and part-owner of the Warriors!
Lowry was understandably upset and angry but kept his cool, while Stevens was fined half a million dollars and banned from games for a year. He was suspended from all team activities.
This moment definitely intensified the rivalry between Golden State and Toronto fans. The Raptors organization and fans were not impressed, further fuelling the fire that led them to win the series.
VanVleet Goes Off, Comes Up Big For The Raptors
Fred VanVleet played an integral part in the Raptors’ success in the NBA finals.
In game six, we saw Fred VanVleet put in work while coming off the bench. He finished with 22 points, 12 of which were scored in the final quarter of the game. VanVleet also hit five of the Raptors’ 13 made three-pointers for an impressive game sheet.
VanVleet’s game six performance, paired with his overall finals showing, gave Raptors fans even more reason to cheer him on. Fans really took to VanVleet, realizing his worth as an exceptional point guard, shooter, and part of the team.
In this moment, VanVleet solidified himself as one of the Raptor greats with his talent and unwavering determination. His drive and skills, especially in game six, played a huge part in helping the Raptors secure the championship. Everyone loved to see Fred out there, doing his thing.
Lowry’s Game 6 Performance
If one thing was abundant during the 2019 NBA finals, it was the fact that Kyle Lowry deserved it. His leadership, talent, grit, and determination were on full display during this series.
During game six, Lowry went off for 26 points. He scored 11 of these points in the first two-plus minutes, giving the Raptors the ultimate edge to run away with the championship. Arguably, he sparked the most magical moment in Raptors history!
Lowry undoubtedly had one of the best basketball showings of his career during this game. Although he didn’t score a career high in points, he showed up to win. He was composed, motivated his teammates, and played an incredible game of basketball.
Game six only further proved Kyle Lowry’s legacy as one of the greatest Toronto Raptors of all time. Nobody meant more to the team’s overall success and growth than Lowry. It was so exciting to watch one of the team’s greatest leaders finally achieve his dream after putting in the hard work for the team and city that he loves. And for that, we love you right back, K-Low!
When we go back to the 2019 NBA finals, we can’t help but think: what a time to be alive!
So much pride and happiness was brought to Toronto and the entire country of Canada when the Raptors hoisted that championship cup. They managed to capture the first championship in franchise history, and ended the 25 year championship drought for Toronto sports fans.
There were so many amazing moments in this series, and we hope that this non-exhaustive list refreshed your memory.
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