The Toronto Raptors came within one basket of a momentous win on Monday. But instead of becoming the first Canadian team to win an NBA championship, the party was spoiled by the Golden State Warriors.
Down by six entering the final stretch, the Warriors showed their mettle, going on a nine-point run to defeat the Raptors 106-105 on Monday and force a Game 6.
The atmosphere inside Scotiabank Arena was electric. With Raptors global ambassador Drake helping to pump the crowd during the anthem, as longtime performer Doug Tranquada delivered a stirring opening stanza to O Canada. Accompanying him inside the arena were nearly 20,000 fans.
Thousands more were cheering outside. Diehard Raptors faithful camped out for days, at times braving pouring rain, just to stand in Jurassic Park,
Drizzy, however, was far from the only big name in the stands. A slew of other celebs including Wayne Gretzky, former Raptor Vince Carter, soccer icon Thierry Henry and British business magnate Richard Branson also took in the action.
The Warriors started the game strong, going 5 for 5 from 3-point range in the first five minutes. The Raptors, however, weathered the storm to remain within striking distance.
Initially, Kevin Durant’s return helped bolster the Warriors. The reigning two-time NBA Finals MVP was playing for the first time since suffering a calf injury in May. And while Durant started strong – making his first two jumpers – he would injure his Achilles early in the second quarter, casting a cloud over the Warriors’ victory.
While some Raptors fans began to cheer following Durant’s injury, Raptors Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and Danny Green attempted to quiet them down.
Even though Kawhi Leonard scored 12 of his 26 points in the final quarter, it wasn’t enough.
In the end the Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, would combine for back-to-back threes to send the series back to Oakland for Game 6 on Thursday.