TORONTO (AP) — The NBA Finals are making one last trip to Oracle Arena.
For the Toronto Raptors, it’s a second shot at a first championship.
For the Golden State Warriors, it’ll be a night to play for a fallen teammate and the fans they’re leaving behind.
Game 6 is Thursday and the stakes could hardly be higher.
“We owe our fans one more game in Oracle,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said.
There have been so many already during Golden State’s stretch of five straight trips to the NBA Finals, the second-longest run in NBA history. But few had all the drama and emotion that will fill the Oakland air Thursday.
Toronto will bring a 3-2 lead into the building and try again to win a title that seemed so close in Game 5. The Raptors had a six-point lead with less than 3 minutes remaining Monday, poised to put an end to a Golden era in the NBA. Then Thompson and Stephen Curry rallied Golden State to a 106-105 victory, fueled by three straight 3-pointers.
Now the Raptors have to do things a little bit better, for a little bit longer.
“Come out and do the same thing. Just be mentally focused, try to limit our mistakes, and be the aggressor,” Kawhi Leonard said. “Just play hard 48 minutes and see what happens.”
It’s the last game in the arena before the Warriors move to the new Chase Center in San Francisco, and the first one for Golden State with the knowledge that Kevin Durant won’t be back this season. The two-time defending champions began the series hoping he could return from a strained right calf, but not long after he did he was lost in the second quarter of Game 5 with an Achilles tendon injury.
Kevon Looney also went out again, so the Warriors aren’t near full strength.
“It’s not like we’re the only team battling,” Draymond Green said. “They’re battling as well. Everybody is facing fatigue at this point. No one cares who is tired or if you’re facing a little fatigue. ...”
The Warriors are trying to become the 12th team to come back from a 3-1 deficit and only the second in the NBA Finals, after the Cleveland Cavaliers did it against them in 2016. Being back home Thursday is a luxury but certainly no guarantee, not after Toronto won Games 3 and 4 at Oracle Arena, along with its win there in the regular season.
A loss Thursday sends the Warriors into a summer they won’t be eager to face. Durant can become a free agent and will have to decide where he wants to play — whenever he can play. Thompson’s contract also expires, so these could be the final days of a dynasty.
But until then, the Warriors are showing they can win with skill or will. They’ve beaten teams for so long just because of their talent advantages, but getting this title would require much more than that. “We made a lot of different statements over the course of these five years,” Curry said. “Win or lose, I don’t feel like we need to prove anything anymore. It’s just about can we get the job done or not.”
NBA says Gasol should have gone to foul line late in Game 5
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The NBA says Toronto's Marc Gasol should have been given two free throws with 49 seconds left of Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Toronto, a game that the Raptors lost to Golden State by one point.
Gasol was fouled by the Warriors' DeMarcus Cousins on a drive, the NBA said in its Last Two Minute Report that was issued Tuesday. Gasol missed the shot and tumbled to the floor, but no foul was called.
Golden State led 106-103 at the time. The Warriors wound up prevailing 106-105, staving off elimination and sending the series back to Oracle Arena for Game 6 on Thursday night.
The NBA said Cousins moved into Gasol, "initiating contact that affects his driving shot attempt."