Seeing the Golden State Warriors go 0-2 at home in the playoffs sounded like a mind-boggling statement just a week ago.
Just as unthinkable? The Toronto Raptors going up 3-1 against the Steph Curry and the battle-tested champions.
Well, you better believe what you’re seeing, Canada; you’re a win away from making history.
Kawhi Leonard scored 36 points, 17 in the pivotal third quarter, as the Toronto Raptors downed the Golden State Warriors 105-92 on Friday (Saturday, Manila time) to be on the brink of an NBA championship.
“Just (got to) be patient, come in focused and ready to play defense and make some shots,” Leonard said. “As long as we win, I’m satisfied.”
Serge Ibaka added 20 points off the bench for his best performance in the series, and Pascal Siakam chipped in 19 points for the Raptors, who won despite the spirited return of Klay Thompson, who was on fire from the field, and Kevon Looney.
Game 5 moves back to Toronto on Monday (Tuesday, Manila time).
It looked like Golden State was ready to give Toronto a brutal reality check when the Warriors went up by 11 in the first quarter.
But the Raptors, who have shed their reputation as a team that couldn’t get the job done under the bright lights, performed exceptionally well under pressure.
They hung around in the second quarter, then took it to another gear in the third where they outscored the Warriors 37-21.
Thompson scored 28 points to lead Golden State while Steph Curry finished with 27, but was just 2 of 9 from downtown, 48 hours after producing 47 points in Game 3.
Draymond Green tallied 10 points, 9 rebounds and 12 assists.
Leonard also grabbed 12 rebounds in the game.
Only once in 34 chances in NBA Finals history has a team rallied from 3-1 down to win the title, that being in 2016 when LeBron James led Cleveland back to defeat the Warriors.
the Warriors remained without playoff scoring leader Kevin Durant, out the past month with a right calf injury, and lacking him they were no match for the fast-moving Raptors.
Leonard opened the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers, giving the Raptors their first lead at 48-46.
Toronto closed the third with a 20-6 run to seize a 79-67 lead entering the fourth, Leonard scoring 11 and Ibaka adding 7 in the pivotal span.
Fred VanVleet opened final quarter with a 3-pointer for Toronto but was taken to the locker room moments later for 7 stitches after a bloody gash was opened under his right eye when he was struck by the left elbow of Golden State’s Shaun Livingston under the basket.
The Warriors got within 97-89 on a Curry 3-pointer with 2:56 remaining but came no closer.
It could have been the final game at 53-year-old Oracle Arena for the Warriors, who move into a new arena next season in San Francisco. The arena has been the club’s home since 1971.
Defensive work dominated early, both teams struggling to make shots and combining for 13 first-half turnovers.
Leonard scored 14 points in the first quarter but the rest of the Raptors shot 1-for-13 and the Warriors, led by six points from Looney, jumped ahead 23-12 before Leonard scored five points in a 7-0 Toronto run.
Thompson caught fire in the second quarter, going 4-of-5 from the floor as Golden State led 46-42 at halftime. — With a report from Jim Slater, Agence France-Presse
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