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.
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.
WATCH: Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard drop 50 points and hit a step back 37-foot three-point buzzer-beater and lead his team to a 118-115 NBA playoff series win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday.
Oklahoma City Thunder Superstar Russell Westbrook’s attitude toward the media has ranged over the years from harmless and humorous to “dangerous for the NBA” as Steve Kerr suggested.
“I just feel that we have to be very careful as a league,” Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, via The Athletic. “We’re in a good place right now. Very popular. Fans love the game, the social dynamic, the fashion. But more than anything they love the connection they feel to the players. I think it’s important for the players to understand that it’s a key dynamic to this league. I don’t think this is a healthy dynamic, for this league, for any player, any team, any local media, any national media.
“It’s all part of the business,” Kerr said. “You’ve got to feed information to the fans. You don’t have to give a great answer, but it’s dangerous when you go down that path of no communication because one of the reasons people like the league right now is we have a lot of great players, really good guys who handle themselves well. So don’t kill that. You’ve got to keep that going. That’s a big part of the business.”
Westbrook slightly altered his “next question” approach following his team’s Game 4 loss Sunday to go down 3-1 in their first-round series with Portland, but his message remained the same.
The league hasn’t issued a fine or discipline to Westbrook, as he’s still performing his media obligations by showing up, not using inappropriate language or criticizing officials, and so on. But the optics, as many members of the NBA community see it, aren’t good.
Check out Westbrook’s responses — or, non-responses — over the years to questions asked by Berry Tramel during his postgame media availability sessions.
The Pistons season came to an end Monday night as the Milwaukee Bucks took Game 4 127-104 and swept the first-round series.
A playoff run was the goal for the Pistons, and last year, when they made a blockbuster trade that brought Blake Griffin and his five-year, $171.2 million contract to Detroit, they put everything on the line in an effort to get there.
The 2018-19 season was a return to form for Griffin. He averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 75 appearances for the Pistons. He also continued to show off his improved scoring range.
Entering this year, Griffin had 191 made three-pointers over his first nine seasons. He connected on 189 threes in 2018-19 alone and shot 36.2 percent from beyond the arc.
The way he reinvented his game should’ve led to a more glorious ending. Instead, the end result is a huge letdown, for him and Detroit. The Pistons never came close in this series, and Griffin wasn’t even able to play at full health, missing the first two games with a knee injury before playing through the pain in Game 3 and 4.
In true sports warrior fashion, Blake Griffin who fouled out near the closing of Game 4, received a standing ovation and MVP chants from the Pistons fans. He was visibly hurt and still played through the pain. In a league where players frequently rest due to load management, Griffin has won over every fan.
San Antonio came out with a 118-108 win in Game 3 against Denver with Derrick White leading the Spurs. White had a career-high 36 points on 15-for-21 shooting, five assists, five rebounds, three steals and one block.
“Derrick White came out like he hadn’t eaten in two days, he came out hungry, he came out pissed off and he sent a very loud and clear message. That was a hell of a performance from a young player.”
Nuggets coach Mike Malone praising Derrick White’s Game 3 performance.
During the post game interview, White credits G League experience for his career performance in Game 3 win.
“I think the G League last year was huge. Everybody said I didn’t have playoff experience, but I did this in the G League. It was big for my development, as far as what works and doesn’t work.”
An injury to Dejounte Murray prompted Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to give the 6-4 player a shot at the point guard position. White, 24, is in his second NBA season, playing just 17 games as a rookie in 2017-18 with 24 games in the G League.