2019 NBA Finals Game 5: Durant’s injury overshadows thrilling game

Caroline Cameron sat down with Raptors assistant coach Sergio Scariolo, who talked about this year's team, last year's run and more!

You can re-live Game 5 of the Raptors’ Finals series against the Warriors Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on Sportsnet and Sportsnet ONE. The full broadcast schedule for the re-airing of Toronto’s historic 2019 championship playoff run can be found here.

Of all the games played in the 2019 Finals between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors, Game 5 might be the most memorable for a number of reasons.

Here’s a look at a few of them.

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Durant returns, then promptly exits

The biggest storyline of this entire Finals was when/if Kevin Durant was going to return from injury.

Out with a calf injury since Game 5 of the Warriors’ second-round series with the Houston Rockets, the two-time Finals MVP was like a looming spectre on the championship series, casting a foreboding shadow over the Raptors, who were preparing for his eventual return nearly every game of the Finals.

With the Warriors facing elimination, however, Game 5 was the game for Golden State to unleash its not-so-secret weapon on the Raptors, whether he was fully recovered from his injury or not.

When the ball tipped this was looking like a genius move, with Durant drilling a top-of-the key three for his first made basket since returning from injury as part of an 8-2 spurt from Golden State to open the game.

That basket appeared to quickly get Durant into a rhythm as the superstar would finish the quarter with 11 points on 3-for-4 shooting, with all of his made field goals coming from deep.

Durant was looking like he was in the zone, and with his Warriors leading 34-28 at the end of the period, you could almost tangibly fear the nervousness emanating from the Scotiabank Arena crowd.

Then the second quarter came and disaster struck for the Warriors and, especially, for Durant.

At just under the 10 minute mark of the second period, Durant had the ball at the top of the key and was looking to work Serge Ibaka, who had switched onto him on the perimeter. Durant made a crossover dribble, but appeared to get the ball poked loose by Ibaka, who stole the rock and went the other way for a fastbreak layup.

Upon closer look, however, Durant came up lame on the play and actually ended up rupturing his right Achilles tendon, forcing him to exit the game with help from teammate Andre Iguodala and Warriors team staff.

The entire incident ended up being a huge mess as the crowd was confused about what was going on, with people initially cheering for the Ibaka made layup and some even disgustingly cheering for Durant’s departure from the game.

Raptors players on the court helped calm matters by imploring the crowd to quiet down, but that still didn’t take away from the fact that what ended up being Durant’s last image on a basketball for almost a year now was people cheering as he suffered a career-threatening injury.

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Kawhi’s near championship run

Durant’s injury was, without question, the biggest story of Game 5, but perhaps lost in the weirdness of the rest of the game was a furious fourth quarter by Kawhi Leonard that damn near almost won Toronto the championship right there at home.

Leonard was very quiet for the first three frames, shooting just 4-for-15 from the field for 14 points. It wasn’t looking like enough. As the Warriors held a lead coming into the fourth quarter, Leonard was going to have to find his lost shot if the Raptors were to have any chance.

Midway through the fourth, he did.

Starting with a put-back layup after an amazing rebound from a missed Danny Green three-pointer, the flood gates for Leonard’s shot appeared to open up as he would then go on a personal 10-2 scoring run to put the Raptors up four with about four minutes to play.

Scotiabank Arena was rocking and the Raptors had all the momentum on their side thanks to Leonard, but then Toronto coach Nick Nurse made what may have been his only real gaffe of the entire Finals and took a timeout after a missed Stephen Curry three-pointer.

Had Nurse not taken a timeout there, the Raptors could’ve reasonably extended the run they were on, but instead, Nurse halted the push his team was on in order to give them a quick breather, a decision that proved fatal.

The game in a GIF

After Nurse took that timeout, the Warriors were able to regain their lead thanks to back-to-back-to-back three pointers from Klay Thompson and Curry.

Still, this left the Raptors down only three with less than a minute left — something that would get trimmed down further to one point with 29 seconds remaining after a heroic signature two-for-one attempt from Kyle Lowry, who drove and got his layup goaltended.

The two-for-one attempt ended up working out even better than originally intended, as DeMarcus Cousins got called for a moving screen on the other end, giving the Raptors a chance to win the game with 15.7 seconds left.

Unfortunately for Toronto, what you see above was the end result of this last shot attempt. Golden State wisely doubled Leonard as soon as he started making his move, forcing him to pass it out. This led to a scramble situation that actually saw Fred VanVleet find an open-looking Lowry in the corner, but it may have been a defensive bait by the Warriors as Draymond Green was right there to make the strong contest and actually come up with a block on Lowry’s look.

Game over. There will be a Game 6.

Game 5 Boxscore (via NBA.com)


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