Ok, first let me explain why I have this game ranked here instead of Game 6 vs. Golden State:
Yes, it was in Oracle Arena where the Raptors officially became NBA champions. It’s the happiest moment of my, and probably your basketball lifetime. But as far as the actual game goes, it wasn’t that stressful.
The 2019 Raptors only had to play one quarter against the Warriors at full strength. When Durant left with his Achillies injury and Klay Thompson also got injured, victory was almost assured.
Klay was gone, Durant was gone, Steph Curry was being triple-teamed, and suddenly Steve Kerr was relying on Draymond Green, a post-Achilles tear DeMarcus Cousins, and a 35-year-old Andre Iguodala to win Finals games. Meanwhile, the Raptors were healthy, determined, and firing on all cylinders.
It was like a boxing match. We may have knocked out the Warriors in round 6, but we had beaten them long before that.
The Bucks series, however, was a different animal.
It was in the Bucks series where the Raptors became the champs
Everyone remembers the 7-game war against the 2019 Sixers, and rightly so, but not everyone remembers how poorly the Raptors played during it. Yes, Kawhi Leonard was incredible, but as far as complete team play was concerned, it was pretty rough.
Lowry was good, not great, Siakam looked nervous, and VanVleet struggled due to the size of the Philly roster. It was only in the Bucks series that the team fully came together and realized its true potential.
They broke Giannis. They built a wall with Gasol in the middle and held the reigning MVP to his lowest playoff FG% since his rookie year.
In Game 6, the Raptors were at their best. They hung around for most of the first half, but then turned it on when it mattered. The defence, the shot-making, the teamwork, it all came together to highlight Masai Ujiri’s 2019 masterwork in roster construction.
The Raptors were handed the trophy after Game 6 in Oakland, but it was after Game 6 in Toronto when we knew we could win it all.