There were highs. There were lows. There was heartache, joy and inspiration. Monday’s one-point win in Toronto, in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, had Warriors fans feeling all kinds of emotions. Here are some notes, takeaways and thoughts from a game that had a little bit of everything.
A BIZARRE FEELING
“It’s a bizarre feeling that we all have right now — an incredible win and a horrible loss at the same time,” Steve Kerr said during his postgame press conference. If you don’t read anything further, Kerr’s postgame quote is probably the most accurate way to describe the feeling in the aftermath of Monday’s win, and that’s still the case the following day.
Of course, the ‘horrible loss’ that Coach Kerr was referring to was Kevin Durant’s injury. After suffering a strained right calf in Game 5 of the team’s second round series against Houston, Durant returned to the starting lineup on Monday, only to exit the game with a right Achilles injury.
Although injuries are part of the game, this one was tough to see for the Dubs, and for the Raptors players as well. Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala were among those walking Durant back to the locker room, a decision Curry says he has no recollection making.
“Sometimes the spirit tells you what to do,” Curry said when asked about checking on Durant in the heat of an NBA Finals game. “You don’t really make decisions, you just act on it. I can’t tell you what went through my head, it just felt fright.”
Details of the severity of the injury have yet to be announced, but the postgame mood around the team was dampened for a team that just came up with a big win because all thoughts were with the injured Warrior. Curry’s postgame press conference was less about basketball, and almost exclusively on Durant’s injury, and rightfully so. Furthermore, the emotion of Bob Myers’ press conference on Durant’s injury made it obvious that this was about much more than basketball.
KD’S PERFORMANCE ON THE COURT
Although he was only able to play 12 minutes before the injury, Durant certainly made his impact felt in that time. Despite not playing in more than a month, he showed little signs of rust in knocking down each of his three 3-point attempts to finish with 11 points, all scored in the first quarter. Considering the Warriors won by just one point, the Dubs needed every one of those shots to win the game and keep their championship hopes alive.
CLUTCH SPLASH BROTHERS
The Raptors had won three of the first four games of the series with a defense that on multiple occasions smothered the Warriors offense for long stretches at a time. That was once again the case on Monday as the Dubs scored just 13 points over the first nine and a half minutes of the fourth quarter. With the Warriors struggling to find offense, Kawhi Leonard, who had been contained to an inefficient game to that point, rattled off 10 straight points for the Raptors in a span of less than two minutes, resulting in Toronto leading 103-97 with 3:28 left in the game.
Cue the Splash Brothers. Curry, Klay Thompson and Durant had opened the game with five straight 3-pointers in the first quarter, and minus an injured Durant, the squad finished the game in similar fashion. Thompson used a Draymond Green screen and dribbled into a 3-pointer from the left wing to start the comeback. Two possessions later, Curry curled around another screen and drilled a catch-and-shoot trey to tie it with 1:22 left in the game. Leonard missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer for the Raptors on the other end before Thompson put the Warriors good with his seventh 3-pointer of the game, and the Warriors did just enough the rest of the way to hang on to the victory.
“This was a whale of a basketball game,” Warriors radio broadcaster Tim Roye said after the game. “When you talk about NBA Finals games, I think this will go down as one of the most remembered and one of the best and hotly competed games in NBA history.”
THE LAST PLAY
On the last play of the game, the Warriors had a foul to give, but instead ran two defenders at Leonard, who a few minutes earlier had scored 10 of his 26 points in a span of less than two minutes. Leonard passed the ball out to Fred VanVleet on the perimeter, who dished it out to Kyle Lowry in the corner in front of the Warriors bench. Lowry launched as Draymond Green ran out to challenge the shot. Had Lowry made it, it would have given the Raptors their first championship in franchise history. Instead, Draymond Green got a game-winning block. Tim Roye had the call of that game-ending play on the Warriors Radio Network:
UNEXPECTED GAME FROM COUSINS
Through the first four games of the NBA Finals, DeMarcus Cousins’ performance was up and down. Still battling his way back from a torn left quad muscle suffered in the Dubs’ second playoff game against the Clippers, which came four months after recovering from a rupture of his left Achilles suffered in January of 2018 when he was with the Pelicans, Cousins wasn’t expected to have a major role in Monday’s Game 5. After starting the last three games of the series, including an 11-point, 10-rebound, six-assist performance in Game 2, Cousins sat out the entire first quarter and wasn’t the Dubs’ first or second big off the bench. Those honors belonged to Kevon Looney and Andrew Bogut, and it wasn’t until Durant got hurt that Cousins entered the game.
Thirteen seconds after subbing in for Bogut, he converted in the paint for his first points of the game. Cousins would score seven straight Warriors points over a minute and 20 seconds, and his 3-pointer with 8:20 left in the second quarter gave the Dubs their largest lead of the game to that point. Cousins with finish the game with 14 points and six rebounds while shooting 6-for-8 from the floor, leading all Dubs reserves in scoring and minutes played (20).
“I thought DeMarcus was fantastic tonight,” Kerr said. “He stayed ready. He didn’t get the first call for that second-quarter run. We went to Bogut and then with the injury we knew we needed his scoring and he stayed ready and played a brilliant game.”
Playing Through Pain
The Splash Brothers went on a 9-0 run to give the Warriors the lead in the fourth quarter and Green made the defensive play that preserved the win, but one player who deserves a big ovation at Oracle Arena on Thursday is Kevon Looney. The fourth-year pro has developed into what Head Coach Steve Kerr calls a “foundational piece” of the Warriors core, and after initially being ruled out indefinitely with a non-displaced first costal cartilage fracture (right side) suffered in Game 2, Looney has played the last two games in obvious discomfort, and he plans on playing in Game 6 as well.
One Last Time for The Town
There was a ceremonial finale at Oracle Arena on April 7, the last Warriors’ regular season home game at Oracle Arena. When the Dubs lost Game 4 of the NBA Finals, there was uncertainty of whether or not that would be the last game. But thanks to all of the reasons mentioned above, that’s not the case. With confidence, we can say that this Thursday will be the last Warriors game ever at Oracle Arena. And what better way to close it out than Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals! Dub Nation, we know you’ll be ready.