In a night that the biggest of stars stepped up in the grandest of stages, it was the Dubs who would get the last laugh. It wasn’t without incident, though, as the victory came at a tremendous cost for the defending champs. Kevin Durant, who was playing in his first game back since the second round of the playoffs, was only able to take the court for no more than 12 minutes, as the reigning back-to-back Finals MVP was forced to leave the game due to a devastating Achilles injury.
Nevertheless, despite the odds being stacked against them, the Warriors would refuse to let up. This was a huge momentum-shifting victory, and with Game 6 heading back to Oakland, we believe that the Warriors are now in a prime position to win the remaining two games of the series, en route to their highly-coveted three-peat. Below are three reasons why we believe this to be true.
The Worst is Over
Down 3-1 in the series, losing arguably your best player to injury early in the ballgame, and a seemingly unstoppable Kawhi Leonard leading a late surge that would put the Raptors ahead in the final moments of the contest. This was a perfect storm for the Warriors, and as it turns out, one that they would be able to weather.
The Raptors had so much momentum heading into Game 5, with the bookkeepers in Vegas marking them as favorites to bag the title in their home floor on Monday night. They were playing in front of a capacity home crowd and had the whole nation of Canada behind them.
Nonetheless, the Warriors just proved that there’s no quit in them, and their victory here sends out a very important message not only for their opponents, but for their own selves as well. Game 5 was arguably going to be the most difficult win they had to pull off, and by doing so, they have proven that they still have it in them to win three straight.
Game 6 in Oracle Arena obviously gives the Warriors the advantage, and if they are able to force a Game 7, Golden State will definitely be heavily-favored to win that one as well. Game 5 was the big one, and the way they secured the unlikely victory speaks volumes of this team’s willpower and desire to win. The worst is over.
Losing Durant is unquestionably a big blow for the Warriors. However, let’s not forget that they still have a man named Stephen Curry on their side — the Greatest Shooter Of All Time. The former back-to-back MVP winner is having his best Finals series performance in his entire career, and there seems to be no signs of him letting up.
Sure, fatigue may be kicking in, and he did look a bit worse for wear in Game 4 following an epic 47-point Game 3 performance. Nevertheless, an exhausted Curry still put up 27 points in Game 4, and he followed it up with another remarkable Game 5 showing, scoring a team-high 31 points on 10-of-23 shooting with five three-pointers.
He definitely still has some gas left in the tank, and with the elusive Finals MVP trophy in his sights, we might just witness one of the most memorable close outs in Finals history as Curry hopes to lead his team to two more wins to clinch their fourth title in five years.
The Heart of a Champion
As the old cliche goes: never underestimate the heart of a champion. This definitely holds true in the case of the Warriors, as their invaluable championship experience comes into play here. We’re entering the championship rounds now, as they say, and surely, the advantage has to be given to the defending champs here.
The Raptors themselves collectively have a ton of experience under their belt, but this pales in comparison to that of Golden State. They have been through five straight Finals now, and they have a certain grasp of the situation that Toronto lacks.
It’s definitely not going to be an easy task for the Warriors, especially considering how they will need to win Game 7 (if ever) on the road. Nevertheless, as they say in boxing, in order to dethrone the champ you need to defeat him convincingly by knocking him out; going to a decision after 12 rounds usually spells disaster for the challenger, and more often than not, its the defending champion’s hand that is raised at the end of it all.