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Toronto Raptors: 16 magic moments on the highway to the NBA Finals

Recreation 6 of the NBA Finals will likely be watched by thousands and thousands of Canadians. Ought to the collection go to a winner-take-all seventh recreation, much more folks will tune in.

The overwhelming majority of the folks watching Thursday evening – and, god forbid, doubtlessly Sunday evening – will likely be relative basketball neophytes.

With these late-to-the-party followers in thoughts, we’ve put collectively a primer on the important thing on- and off-court strikes that put the Toronto Raptors in place to win their first championship.

July 11, 2012: Toronto acquires Kyle Lowry in a commerce with the Houston Rockets. Now the group’s longest-tenured participant by far, Lowry turns into one of the recognizable Raptors because the group transforms from near-basement-dwellers into perennial playoff contenders.

May 31, 2013: Masai Ujiri, the reigning NBA Government of the Yr, is lured away from the Denver Nuggets to turn into the Raptors’ fifth common supervisor. He instantly begins the turnaround effort which immediately results in in the present day’s success, and his efforts get him promoted to group president in 2016.

June 14, 2018: Nick Nurse is called Toronto’s new head coach, changing Dwayne Casey, who was fired regardless of main the Raptors to an NBA-best 59 wins the earlier season. Nurse, who had been an assistant coach with the group, had beforehand loved success as a head coach within the lower-level NBA G League.

July 18, 2018: The Raptors pull off a blockbuster commerce, transport franchise participant DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio in alternate for star ahead Kawhi Leonard. Toronto additionally provides up a draft decide and backup centre Jakob Poelti, whereas receiving versatile three-point menace Danny Inexperienced in return, however it’s Leonard who steals the headlines. Thought of the most important deal in Raptors historical past as much as that cut-off date, its affect has solely grown as Leonard has led the group to unprecedented heights.

Sept. 29, 2018: Leonard makes his debut in a Raptors uniform, thrilling followers in Vancouver by scoring 12 factors in 19 minutes of pre-season motion. The efficiency goes past exhibiting that the facility ahead is pretty much as good as marketed – it additionally supplies concrete proof that he’s wholesome sufficient to go well with up. Leonard had appeared in solely 9 video games in his ultimate season in San Antonio, and none after early January, on account of a quadriceps damage.

Oct. 17, 2018: In an indication of issues to come back, the Raptors kick off their season with a 116-104 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers – the perennial nemeses who had eradicated them in the course of the earlier season’s playoffs. Leonard picks up a double-double with 24 factors and 12 assists, whereas Lowry leads all gamers on the courtroom with 27 factors.

Dec. 12, 2018: Toronto completes a season sweep of Golden State with a 113-93 rout in California. Making the efficiency much more spectacular is that the Raptors are taking part in with out Kawhi Leonard, who’s scratched on account of a sore hip.

Jan. 17, 2019: A milestone and a down-to-the-wire end make for a memorable evening for followers at Scotiabank Area. Kyle Lowry picks up his 5,000th profession help, and Pascal Siakam sinks a last-second layup to present Toronto a 111-109 win over Phoenix.

Feb. 7, 2019: One of many NBA’s greatest commerce deadline offers sees the Raptors ship three gamers together with Jonas Valanciunas to Memphis for centre Marc Gasol. Though Gasol is a couple of years faraway from his award-winning days, Ujiri says he expects the veteran to supply the group with championship expertise. A few hours later, the Raptors showcase their depth as Pascal Siakam scores 33 factors and Fred VanVleet 30 – each profession highs – in a win over Atlanta.

Feb. 21, 2019: DeRozan will get a standing ovation from Toronto followers as he returns to Scotiabank Area for the primary time because the earlier summer time’s commerce. The Raptors get the final chuckle, although, beating San Antonio 120-117.

April 23, 2019: The Raptors polish off the Orlando Magic in 5 video games to advance to the convention semifinals. Orlando had shocked many by profitable the primary recreation within the collection, however the Raptors roared again with 4 straight wins together with a 115-96 drubbing in Recreation 5.

May 12, 2019: Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. Swish. A nation holds its breath as Leonard’s buzzer-beater try makes up its thoughts on whether or not it can drop by the ring. When it does, Raptors followers – lots of whom might have been shocked to seek out themselves watching Recreation 7 as an alternative of the “Game of Thrones” finale – exhale. The Philadelphia 76ers had pushed Toronto to the restrict, however didn’t put them away, and the Raptors are off to the Jap Convention Last.

May 25, 2019: After falling behind 2-Zero to the Mllwaukee Bucks, the Raptors as soon as once more reply to adversity with 4 victories in a row. The final of those, a 100-94 win, requires a spectacular comeback of its personal, because the Raptors have been behind by as many as 15 factors at one level. Leonard has quite a lot of highlight-reel performs en path to totals of 27 factors and 17 rebounds.

May 30, 2019: Enjoying within the NBA Finals for the primary time in franchise historical past, the Raptors beat Golden State 118-109. Whereas Leonard has 23 factors and Gasol provides 20, Toronto is led by Siakam, who takes management of the sport with a 32-point outburst.

June 5, 2019: Leonard scores 30 because the Raptors beat the Warriors 123-109. The wins places Toronto up 2-1 within the collection, and means that Ujiri knew what he was doing when he acquired Inexperienced together with Leonard. Busting out of an sadly timed stoop, Inexperienced compiles 18 factors – all of them on three-point photographs. Toronto scores 17 three-pointers in whole, tying a file for many by a highway group in an NBA Finals recreation.

June 7, 2019: A 105-92 win places Toronto one recreation away from its first championship. Leonard leads the best way with a powerful 36-point, 12-rebound efficiency, whereas Serge Ibaka scores 20 and Siakam provides 19. One of the best efforts of Steph Curry and his Golden State teammates are thwarted by a deepening realization that accidents might price the Warriors the collection.

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