The Golden State Warriors survived an up-and-down thriller in Toronto, defeating the Raptors 106-105, despite the crushing and emotional loss of Kevin Durant. Team officials believe a scheduled MRI on Monday will reveal a torn Achilles tendon in their star's heel.
Hopes were high and energy was flowing throughout the entire Warriors team, entering Monday night's Game 5. KD's long-awaited return had finally come. From the opening tip, he made his presence felt, almost as if he had never left; he seemed like he hadn't missed a beat. Helping his team to a 34-28 first quarter lead, Durant nailed each of his three three-point shots, scoring 11 points in total.
KD looked strong, loose, and healthy. He also looked ready to take over. Then the second quarter came. After an attempted cut, out on the perimeter, Durant just dropped the ball and knew immediately that something was wrong. He was noticeably holding his leg in the area of his Achilles tendon. After a stunningly disrespectful cheer from the Toronto crowd, during which the Raptor players were demonstrably petitioning the fans to stop, KD was helped back to the locker room.
Even Drake was upset.
Drake visibly upset with Kevin Durant injury pic.twitter.com/YpuMkFMFGE— Heart of NBA (@HeartofNBA) June 11, 2019
At that point, Golden State held a 39-34 lead, with 9:46 remaining in the second quarter. The Warrior players looked like they had just been punched in the gut and understandably so.
Then DeMarcus Cousins got going. He scored seven consecutive Golden State points en route to a nine point frame, while his teammate, Stephen Curry, led the charge late in the period. The Splash Brother finished the second with nine points, as well, nailing a couple of big three-point shots. While Durant's teammates picked up the slack, seemingly rallying in support of their fallen brother, the Raptors were not ready to roll over and head back to the Bay Area.
After falling behind by as many as 13 points in the second, Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors closed the halftime gap to six points (Warriors 62, Raptors 56). The third quarter was up-and-down, but ultimately was a wash, as both teams managed to put up 22 points in the period. In the fourth quarter, Toronto would finally make their run at the champs and their crown.
The Raptors chipped away at the Golden State lead, slowly, just before Kawhi hit a three-point shot, giving his team its first lead since the opening quarter (96-95). Including the go-ahead score, Leonard went on to score 10 straight Raptor points, guiding his team to a 103-97 lead with 3:28 remaining in regulation. The energy was palpable inside Scotiabank Arena, as the Canadian faithful could sense their team on the brink of winning its first NBA Championship.
However, the Warriors flipped into never-say-die mode, leaning on the slick shooting of the Splash Brothers – Curry and Klay – to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. With 2:32 left, Klay launched and hit a three, bringing the Dubs within three. Next, Curry worked hard off the ball, catching a pass with his back to the basket and banging a fade-away three, tying the game at 103-103. A missed shot at the other end of the floor led to a Klay Thompson catch, fake, adjust, and sweet three-point stroke.
The sold-out crowd of 20,144 was stunned, as they witnessed their team go from up six to trailing by three in mere minutes. The clock showed 57.6 seconds left. With the score Golden State 106 and Toronto 103, the Warriors made a couple crucial mistakes. First, Curry and Draymond Green had a mid-court mix-up, leading to a backcourt violation. Then, with the score 106-105 (Warriors leading), DeMarcus Cousins was called for an offensive foul while trying to set a screen for Curry.
Everything came down to defense for the Dubs, as Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors would have the final shot at ending the three-peat attempt once and for all. With 15.7 seconds to go in the game, Klay drew the assignment of shadowing Leonard. As he always does, Thompson played excellent defense, forcing Kawhi to give up the ball. Starting point guard Kyle Lowry would eventually end up with the rock, in the corner, launching a wild attempt at a game-winning three. The basket was missed and the clock ran out, securing the victory and another day of life for the Dubs.
After the game, the Warrior players and coach Steve Kerr were a mix of emotions, ranging from excited to tired to deeply saddened by the injury to Kevin Durant. Later in the evening, the news on KD would get even worse:
ESPN reported that Warriors GM Bob Myers was visibly emotional about Durant's injury, following the revelation that he most likely had an Achilles tendon injury:
"It's an Achilles injury," Myers said after the game, while holding back tears. "I don't know the extent of it. He'll have a MRI tomorrow. Prior to coming back he went through four weeks with a medical team, and it was thorough and it was experts and multiple MRIs and multiple doctors, and we felt good about the process."
For now, the Golden State Warriors still have work to do, as the series shifts back to Oracle Arena in the Bay Area. They'll look to even the series at three games apiece, Thursday night, in Game 6.