WATCH: It has been 24 years in the making and it took 100 playoff games, but the Raptors have finally made it to the grandest stage. It’s been a rough, emotional and frustrating ride but it has all led to this, a date with the Warriors in the NBA Finals. Relive the ups and downs of their journey here.
The Toronto Raptors are headed to the NBA Finals, a basketball success story Canadians have been waiting on for 24 seasons.
The Toronto Raptors made history Saturday night by becoming the first Canadian team to reach the NBA finals after dominating past the Milwaukee Bucks 100-94 in Game 6.
Throughout the entire 2019 playoffs, Leonard has been sensational. With a game 7 buzzer-beater, seven 35-point games, a 45-point game, a 17-rebound game, a nine-assist game and a generally-relentless attitude on defense, in particular while defending Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Kyle Lowry, played through relentless pain of a sprained thumb, had 17 points and eight assists, and grabbed the game ball after the final buzzer.
“It’s taken a long time to get here in my career, 13 years, seven years here,” he said, his baseball cap reading “NBA Finals” pulled down over his head. “I’m going to savour the moment, but I’m not satisfied. Our goal is to win the NBA championship.”
Thousands of people took to the streets of Toronto in celebration of the Raptors’ historic Eastern Conference championship win. Crowds erupted outside of Scotiabank Arena.
Other images posted online showed fans lighting off fireworks in the streets, crowds closing off roads and even people climbing on top of TTC buses and trucks outside of Union Station.
As celebrations were underway, Toronto police sent out a tweet asking everyone to be “mindful, courteous and safe” and on Sunday morning, a police spokesperson confirmed to that no arrests were made during the celebrations.
Raptors ambassador Drake was courtside during the game, cheering on the team and wearing a sweater that read, “Kawhi me a river,” hyping up the crowd. Drake hugged Kawhi Leonard and gave coach Nick Nurse another epic shoulder rub to shut down the haters.
Toronto had an incredible comeback in the series to win four straight games after trailing 2–0 to the Bucks. They will open the NBA finals at home on Thursday night against six-time champions Golden State Warriors. Until then, embrace and enjoy this moment Canada.
WATCH: Stephen A. Smith picks the Golden State Warriors to beat the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals because Steph Curry and Klay Thompson pose a major threat to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, even without Kevin Durant.
Kawhi Leonard is a Superstar. In his first season with the Raptors, Leonard single-handedly made the most memorable moment in Franchise history.
Leonard hit the first game-winning, buzzer-beating shot in the history of NBA playoff Game 7s.Leonard’s buzzer-beater dagger bounced off the rim four times before going down to beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 92-90. The Raptors are headed to the conference finals to play against Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks.
Virginia Tech guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker is the latest Canadian to declare he is entering the NBA draft. The 6’5″ guard helped Virginia Tech advance to the Sweet 16 this season. He led the Hokies in scoring this season, averaging 16.2 points while shooting 47.4 per cent from the field.
WATCH: Rachel Nichols, Jackie MacMullan and Paul Pierce discuss Scott Foster being the referee for Game 2 of Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets, despite his spotty history with both teams and many NBA players.