4. 2019 NBA Finals: Toronto Raptors beat Golden State Warriors (4-2)
Overall excitement: 10/10
Average score: 9.3/10
Behind one of the greatest individual postseason performances of all-time, Kawhi Leonard led the Toronto Raptors to their first ever NBA championship. The strength of an entire country was supporting the Raptors and this inspiring playoff run will be remembered for decades to come.
On his way to the Finals, Kawhi was having his best season to date, averaging 31.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in the first three rounds to help drag his team to the Finals. Along the way, the Raps knocked off the very talented Philadelphia 76ers team with the first ever walk-off shot in a Game 7 by Leonard. In the conference finals, Toronto displayed its dominance by knocking off the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks and sending Giannis Antetokounmpo — the likely MVP winner — home.
Back in Oakland, the Golden State Warriors were gearing up for their fifth consecutive Finals appearance and looking to capture a three-peat. Winning three titles in a row is something very few teams have been able to do, and the Dubs were about to learn this lesson the hard way.
Injuries ravaged the Warriors early in the postseason. In the first two rounds, both DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Durant fell to injuries. It only got worse in the Finals when Durant ruptured his Achilles in Game 5, only for Klay Thompson to tear his ACL in Game 6. Multiple other injuries occurred, including a chest injury to Kevon Looney that held him out of two games.
As for the Raptors, health and luck were on their side. At the perfect time, every player on the team stepped up. Pascal Siakam had an explosive 32 points in Game 1, while Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Danny Green all had their key moments in this series. Overall, a total of six Raptors averaged double-digit scoring as opposed to the Dubs, who had only three.
To no one’s surprise, it was Leonard at the end of the day who finished the job for Toronto. Averaging 28.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, Kawhi won Finals MVP and once again shut down a team that was looking to three-peat.
Sadly, this series will largely be remembered for its devastating injuries. Durant and Klay both suffered potentially career-altering injuries and it without a doubt swayed the series. Regardless, each game of this series was exciting and filled with moments of mayhem. It sucks that so many players got hurt, but the performances on the court were nothing short of great.