The 2019 NBA Finals is all set to begin and the prohibitive favourites, The Golden State Warriors will be back for their fifth straight trip to the Finals. But unlike other seasons the fans will have something new to cheer about in this all star-studded best of 7 NBA showdown. This will be an NBA final without LeBron James and the Warriors, who are on their longest NBA Finals run in half-a-century will be looking for their first three-peat since 2002. The Warriors have emerged as Champions from this stage before and have triumphed over any obstacle that’s stood in their path. But, this 2019 final marks the first time that the league’s championship series will feature games played outside the United States and surprisingly where? An opportunity for Canada to finally beat the U.S. in the Canadian game.
After falling behind with two games to none to the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Toronto Raptors ripped off four straight wins, making it to the Finals for the first time in franchise history. In their 24-year-old history, the Raptors who are tainted as rookies swept the two-game regular-season series vs. Golden State and Kawhi Leonard who is looking to become the King in the North will give his all in the debut finals for his franchise and will look to turn the odds to be the NBA champs for the first time before his potential exit from the ball game.
By winning more games than the Warriors in the regular season, the Raptors have the home court advantage in the best-of-seven NBA Finals. They will look to halt Golden State in seeking its third NBA championship in a row and create an upset after their incredible last four seasons. After all, for a fact, before this four-year streak, Toronto had never recorded a 50-win season.
Xploresports jots down the facts and figures before the final begins at the Scotiabank Arena. While the beauty of Basketball lies in unpredictability can the underdogs disrupt the Warriors legacy?
The Raptors are seasoned, resourceful and defensively stout and have pushed hard in every one of their series victories. Raptors Kawhi Leonard has scored 561 points in the 2019 postseason, the sixth-highest all-time total for a player before the NBA Finals and no doubt he will be the biggest threat for the Warriors. He’s an elite isolation scorer, capable of battering through even the toughest defences to get off the shots he imagines. Leonard has averaged 0.472 points per touch in the playoffs his rate of 0.410 points per touch in the conference finals was down from the first two rounds. He is widely regarded as one of, if not the best, defender in the league and he will surely not allow the Warriors to impose their will on the game in the initial rounds.
Kevin Durant, one among the 3 best basketball players in the world hasn’t played since May 8th due to his calf injury. Although the Warriors have won the playoff games without Durant being involved, they will have to work a bit harder for everything in the final showdown. But, in the mega stage, it leaves Kawhi Leonard a chance to guard Steph Curry and Durant is also the only member of the Warriors to beat Kawhi in the playoffs. Not having one of their key players at least for the first 2 games will sting the Warriors a backdrop in mind but the home advantage for the Raptors will be an icing on the cake. Getting a potential Game 7 in Scotiabank Arena is certainly better than having to travel for it, and the Raptors are 3-0 in home closeout games this season.
While the Warriors have stars and role players with secure legacies, the Raptors, on the other hand, have a chance to prove their hunger and can redefine themselves and the franchise with their maiden title. Raptors undoubtedly are stacked with the best defensive players who are long and athletic, but most importantly, they are smart and adaptable. They can switch across at least four positions, but they can also swarm effectively to the ball without having the rest of their defence compromised. If the Raptors are to upset the reigning champions Warriors, Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard will have to play key roles.
History will be on the line when the series gets underway from May 30th- June 16th but what’s more interesting is the state rooting interest which shows 47 of the 50 states in America cheering for the Raptors to win this truly international NBA final.