We’re running it back because they can’t.
With the National Basketball Association on hold for the foreseeable future, TSN and Sportsnet are airing the entirety of the Toronto Raptors’ playoff run to the 2019 NBA title. You can watch Game 2 of the NBA Finals Wednesday night on TSN at 8pm ET/5pm PT or listen on TSN Radio 1050 Toronto.
Over these 24 games, fans can relive the highs and lows – there were lows, but you just might not remember them – of that magical run to the franchise’s first-ever championship, capping a remarkable turnaround from NBA laughingstock to the league’s very best.
From Kawhi Leonard calling the series against the Philadelphia 76ers, to the team improbably overturning a 2-0 series deficit against the Milwaukee Bucks, to that famous June night in Oakland when the Raptors got their hands on the Larry OB, you can relive all 24 games that made the Toronto Raptors NBA champions.
Yes, it’s really happening – the Toronto Raptors have the series lead in the NBA Finals.
If the casual basketball fan was unfamiliar with Pascal Siakam or just how good he can be, they certainly know him now. Siakam led the way for the Raptors in a 118-109 Game 1 victory over the defending-champion Golden State Warriors with 32 points on a hyper-efficient 14-of-17 from the field. It was also the most points by anyone in a Finals aged 25 or younger since 2012 when Kevin Durant had 36 as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Part of Siakam’s coming-out party may have been due to Golden State turning up the pressure on superstar Kawhi Leonard – who has been historically good these playoffs, scoring 31.2 points per game – to the tune of 5-of-14 shooting for 23 points. It wasn’t terrible by any means and Leonard’s impact is never just about scoring, but the Warriors definitely held the former Finals MVP in check.
As good as Siakam was, Toronto will probably need more from Leonard going forward in the series. Raptors head coach Nick Nurse think they’ll get it and doesn’t anticipate Leonard’s leg, which appeared to be bothering him in the Eastern Conference Final against the Milwaukee Bucks, being much of a concern.
"I don't think the leg trouble is much of an issue," Nurse told reporters, "and I'm expecting him to play a lot better tomorrow."
It goes both ways. As for the Warriors, sharpshooter Klay Thompson says he thinks the Raptors caught his team a bit off guard in Game 1. That won’t be the case going forward, he says.
"They were getting the ball off the rim and just pushing it. Instead of crashing as hard as we did, we'll have to make the adjustment in Game 2 and try to send more guys back," Thompson said. "But 10 days off as well, we might have had a little cobwebs. It was just a mixture of things. But I know this: I know we'll be better tomorrow."
"They got rings and they can be confident," Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry said. "We can't really necessarily worry about them. We have to continue to worry about us. They're going to be them and they're going to do their thing, but for us, we have to concentrate on us and focus on what we have to do."
Meanwhile, it didn’t take Drake long to get in on the action.
The rapper showed up to Game 1 sporting a vintage jersey of Stephen Curry’s father, Dell, who played with the Raptors from 1999 to 2002. After the victory, Drake and Warriors forward Draymond Green were seen exchanging words.
When asked about the scuffle after the game, Green downplayed things.
"You got a question about basketball? It wasn't really a scuffle because I didn't hit him and he didn't hit me or I didn't push him or he didn't push me," Green said. "We talked. We barked a little bit but I wouldn't necessarily consider that a scuffle. Not really what I would consider a scuffle."
Catch Game 2 on TSN1, TSN4, TSN.ca, the TSN App and on TSN Direct at 8pm ET/5pm PT.
Here's what TSN Basketball Analysts had to say about Game 2:
“This was not a well officiated game, not that we expected much from a crew of Scott Foster, Tony Brothers AND Ed Malloy. They were ever present, from start to finish. As the L2M report confirmed, Steph should’ve been called for a travel on the crucial play that led to Iguodola’s dagger. The whistle wasn’t exactly 1-sided, though - Kawhi shot 16 FTs. The Raptors were just outplayed in the 2nd half.”
“I remember thinking ‘what happened to the Raptors championship defense?’ Uncharacteristic miscommunications, wide-open layups, and a typical Golden State scoring run to start the third. Give the Raptors credit: they fought to give themselves a chance to win this game. Against two-time defending champions this wasn’t meant to be a cakewalk, the Raps would have to go steal one on the road.”
“Some janky D! We know Nick Nurse is one of the best at mixing things up, but this was out of left field. He actually pulled out the box-and-one and I remember thinking, ‘I hadn’t seen that D since high school!’ Even though G-State was able to even up the series, the strategy was effective, and clearly rattled Steph who made it clear in his post-game interview he wasn’t happy.
Nurse was in it to win it and I couldn’t wait to see what he had in store for game 3!”
“Give the Warriors credit. Their D was really good. Kawhi did his part with 34 & 14, but Klay, Steph & Draymond showed their Championship grit. Tough injury for Klay. West we go deadlocked at 1-1.”
“Raptor fans welcomed Barack Obama in the house for game 2, saw some “Janky D”, and saw the Warriors steal one on the road with an Andre Iguodala game-winning 3!! But what fans didn’t see came after the game, when Nick Nurse told his team all they have to do is get one in Oakland, and Kawhi said “bleep that...let’s get both”! Road trip!!!”
“Of all the celebrities/prominent figures to roll through Toronto this postseason – nobody received a bigger ovation than Barack Obama. It was amazing. Ok, moving on. Look, nobody expected the Raptors to just waltz their way to an NBA Championship against the Warriors. Down by 5, Golden State’s 20-0 run confirmed exactly why they were so lethal. They could get it any which way they wanted to. How smart of a move was it for Steve Kerr to give DeMarcus Cousins the start? He was crucial. As was Klay Thompson. So when Klay left the game with that hamstring pull, despite Golden State tying up the series at 1-1, you could just feel this sense of worry as the series shifted to the Bay.”
“Obviously watching way too much sci-fi in isolation. First, the Star Trek Game One; now, the Star Wars Game Two. Make it the Empire Strikes Back. Raptors met the moment early with energy, but the Jedi Warriors jolted everyone back to reality. Even without their “Vader KD” - the champs are still a force. An unprecedented 20-0 run - 18 out of the chute in the second half and the Raps were suddenly on their heels. Everyone talks about the Raps resilience, but how bout the Dubs: no Durant; Steph goes to the locker room early and returns; and Klay leaving in ther 4th with a hamstring. GS showed why they've been to 5 straight NBA Finals. “Steph Skywalker” said it best: 'when you get to this stage, our DNA shows up".
Off to Oakland... New Hope? Or Revenge of the Six"? Okay nuff sci-fi...back to Tiger King.”