Warriors keep themselves in finals by single-point victory
Fine margins are all it takes to win a game sometimes, and for the Golden State Warriors, their 106-105 victory illustrates the real sign of winners – those that can grind out results right at the end when it is the difference between staying in the NBA Finals and losing by a 4-1 margin.
The series is now at 3-2, and the next game in Toronto is going to be huge. The Raptors will feel that they have to do all they can to win game six at the Oracle Arena, simply because it could all get too overwhelming if it gets to 3-3 and the Warriors are on the verge of pulling it back.
Golden State were hanging on for much of the game, and the fact that they stayed in front from the first quarter is astonishing. After going 34-28 up in the first 12, and carving out a six-point lead, it simply became a case of shutting down as many avenues as possible to prevent Toronto from getting back into the game.
This was partly because they brought back Kevin Durant, and it turned out to be too early for him. He suffered another calf injury in the first, and did not recover to turn out for the second period. The squad rallied without him, and set about maintaining whatever lead they could.
It turned out to be an effective plan until the final minutes. The second quarter was tied at 28 each, and the third was 22-22. The Raptors got a five-point advantage in the last quarter, but their 27-22 score meant that they were just one point short of catching the Warriors.
For a brief moment, the Warriors had something close to their best team out there, and it was enough to gain a quick lead. Steph Curry got 31 points, and Klay Thompson had 26, but Draymond Green put out every fire he could, with enough blocks, steals and swats to put the Raptors off their game.
Toronto will feel that this is a huge opportunity missed to win the series. They were powerless to stop Curry and Thompson combining to each get a three-pointer in the closing minutes, when the Raptors had carved out a six-point lead. That vanished in a relative instant, and they could not get the ball back to Kawhi Leonard to get the final basket.
Leonard still managed 26 points, but they kept him fairly quiet on a night when he could have been the one to steal it in Toronto and take home the NBA Championship for them for the first time.
Words: Noah Hart