The Raptors went from relative safety to jumping right into the maw of the beast. By being unable to close out the series in Game 5, they are going to go back to Oakland for a Game 6. It would not be out of the question to see the Warriors take it by virtue of home court advantage. One has fears when thinking about Game 6 Klay at the Oracle. He could easily go for 60 at any moment. At the same time, the Raptors have won both at the Oracle these Finals, and betting against Kawhi has been a futile task for most of the playoffs. This could easily go to a Game 7 and it is important for the Raptors to not blow their advantage.
This Game at the Oracle is a must win. I’ve said before that the Raptors need to close this series as soon as possible. Trifling with the Warriors and letting them carry on will only hurt more as they heat up. They have time to get healthier and stronger and the Splash Brothers are firing on all cylinders. However, the Raptors do have the better-constructed roster, as Golden State has no depth. The strength in numbers moniker has been more appropriate for the Raptors as they have had contributions from everyone in the rotation. The bench has stepped up in the Finals and that is a major advantage that the Raptors have had over the Warriors.
The Warriors defended the last possession very well, blocking Kyle Lowry’s shot, and forcing the ball out of Kawhi’s hands. They have shown their championship pedigree, and it was insane to think that a dynasty could have been toppled in 4 games, had the Raptors not messed up game 2. In the end, we cannot change what has transpired. Winning an elimination game at the Oracle would be something spectacular, but also something very difficult. However, these Raptors are no strangers to upsets. They have a chance to make history and send the Warriors off packing, and it is hard to envision a complete no show. The Raptors defense will be crucial to that success, as it has been all Finals.
At the Oracle, it is vital that the Raptors just play smart, and limit turnovers. The Warriors punish turnovers with transition threes. With some teams, like the Bucks, you can gamble on some of their shooters missing open looks. But against the Warriors, especially in their house, the Raptors need to play aggressively, forcing turnovers and finishing in transition. The keys will be to limit the Warriors shooters, and contest every one of their looks. The switches must be crisp, and the smaller guards must fight through the screens to reach Curry and Thompson.
It is hard, forgetting about our history of choking and admit that this team can do it. I certainly hope that they can, but they are not going to be given the title. Everything is earned, and the Raptors need to earn that last win. Kawhi Leonard is the cheat code that will unlock the endgame.
Raps in 6.