Rejoice, Raptors fans. Once again, the Raps lead the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. After stealing Game 3 at The Oracle in convincing fashion against the shorthanded defending champs, Toronto now sits 96 minutes of basketball away from the ultimate goal. The team played great all-around basketball with their stars leading the way as they should, and role players doing their job exceptionally. Curry’s 47 points were not enough to overcome the team effort that the Raps exhibited Wednesday night. With potentially 4 games left in the series, and 2 of those guaranteed at home (if necessary), the end of the tunnel is in sight. If the possibility of actually winning a championship didn’t already seem real to you, it better be clear now. Of course in the NBA, anything can happen… that’s why we are going to bask in the glory after winning the biggest game in franchise history (it seems like we’ve been saying that a lot these days). Regardless of what happens from here, NBA fans were given a night to remember. Here are just a few of the records that the Raptors set last night:
Kawhi takes a seat with the greats
In the past 40 years, there had only been 6 players to record 30+ points, 7+ rebounds, 6+ assists, 2+ steals, and 2+ blocks in an NBA Finals game. As the buzzer sounded last night, there became 7. Kawhi Leonard continues to cement one of the greatest postseasons by an individual player in NBA history. What’s even more impressive is that no one bats an eye when he has an achievement like this. Not that he would care at all (check the press conference when he found out he had the first ever game 7 buzzer beating game winner if you don’t believe me), but it has really come to a point where we, and the entire league takes Kawhi’s greatness for granted. People are still running around saying that he’s due for a big game, as if a game like this wasn’t big enough. It’s even scarier that they might be right.
Danny Green creates his own table
According to Micah Adams, there are 35 players in NBA Finals history to attempt 50 or more threes. 34 of the 35 made less than 50% of their attempts, leaving only one man in NBA Finals history shooting threes at a majority clip, while hitting the 50 attempt quota. That man is none other than Danny Green. He had a spectacular bounce back game last night, after it felt like he had been due since the beginning of the playoffs. It was easy for Nurse to leave him on the floor with how he was shooting, providing the team with 18 points on 6 threes. If Green can continue to shoot the ball like this and be a threat from the perimeter to space the floor for other guys, that will give the Raptors’ offense another much-needed weapon.
Wednesday night was only the third time in NBA Finals history that a team shot 50/40/90. The other two teams to accomplish this feat were the Boston Celtics in 1986, and the Golden State Warriors in 2017. Both teams went on to win the championship in their respective seasons. Led by Kawhi’s 10/11 free throw shooting (who is now 36/39 from the line in the series), The Raptors shot 20/21 from the line (95.2%), 17/38 from beyond the arc (44.7%), and 43/82 from the field (52.4%). Additionally, the Raptors’ 17 threes were tied for the most made by a road team in the NBA Finals. Records don’t count for anything at the end of the day, but seeing the team that was once the laughing stock of the NBA set Finals records is something to savour.
Starters on a string
All 5 starters played amazing last night. Forget the past. We’re in the present, where Danny is giving us 6 threes in a game, Lowry and Kawhi are both playing like MVP’s, Gasol is turning back the clock, and Siakam is all over the court. These 5 guys combined for 106 points last night, the most by any starting lineup in the playoffs in Raptors franchise history. And just because beating our own records isn’t good enough, the 123 points that the Raptors scored as a team were the most that the Warriors have allowed in a Finals game during the Steve Kerr era.
Yes, Game 3 was expletively amazing. There’s a lot to enjoy about it, but the Raps can’t afford to get complacent. Worst case scenario; we come home tied 2-2 to play game 5 on our homecourt. That doesn’t mean it’s anything to strive for. With Kevin Durant ruled out and Klay Thompson set to return for the Dubs in Game 4, the contest is very winnable. The Raptors have a real opportunity to take another game on the road and go up 3-1, putting themselves just one basketball game away from hoisting the O’Brien trophy. Friday, here we come.