NBA Finals 2019: Game 5 TV Schedule, Warriors vs. Raptors PredictionsJune 10, 2019
The Toronto Raptors have done much of the heavy lifting, and now they have the opportunity to clinch their first NBA championship Monday as they return to the Scotiabank Arena for Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors.
The Raptors won Games 3 and 4 against the two-time defending NBA champions on their home floor in Oakland, and Toronto leads the series, 3-1.
Toronto has long been known for its hockey passion, but the NHL's Maple Leafs have not won the Stanley Cup since 1967, and fans have fallen in love with Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam.
However, the Warriors could rise up and start playing like champions again, especially if Kevin Durant (questionable with a calf injury) can return to the lineup.
NBA Finals Game 5 Information
Series standings: Toronto leads 3-1
Date: Monday, June 10
Start Time: 9 p.m. ET
Odds: Toronto -2; total 214.5 (per Covers.com)
Live Stream: Watch ESPN or ESPN app
The Warriors announced Sunday that Durant would practice with the team, but his time on the floor did not appear to be significant. ESPN.com's Nick Friedell reported that Durant walked to the court after the rest of his teammates and that he was also one of the first players back in the locker room. He had two ice bags wrapped around his calf when he returned to the team bus.
While that does not seem to offer hope that Durant will be anything close to his best, his presence in the lineup changes the makeup of the Warriors. While they were able to sweep the Portland Trail Blazers without him in the Western Conference Finals, the absence of consistent offense from the Warriors outside of Stephen Curry has hurt them badly.
They were completely overmatched in Game 3 when Klay Thompson (hamstring) could not play, and while the Warriors got off to a strong start in Game 4, they could not sustain that success in the second half. They were overwhelmed in the third quarter, as they were outscored 37-21 by the Raptors in a 105-92 loss.
Prior to his injury in Game 5 of the second-round series against the Houston Rockets, Durant was averaging 34.2 points per game and shooting 51.2 percent from the floor.
Curry explained what Durant brings to the team, per Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle: "It's just having another powerful weapon out there that can do some very dynamic things on the floor. We'll be able to adjust in transition pretty smoothly. He's been in plenty of Finals and has played well. No matter what percentage he’s at, I'm sure he'll be impactful and effective out there."
Durant's long-term status with the Warriors is very much in question since he will be a free agent at the end of the season. That doesn't change how much the Warriors want him back on the floor for Game 5.
"He will be very welcome, I'll say that much," Thompson said, per Friedell. "I think it's pretty easy to realize we obviously miss him out there, and he's propelled us to two championships in the last two years. So it would be pretty storybook if he could come back and help us do the same."
The Raptors don't have the injury issues the Warriors have, but backup point guard Fred VanVleet suffered a cut on his head and a chipped tooth after taking an elbow from Golden State's Shaun Livingston in Game 4 on Friday. VanVleet will play Monday, but he will be wearing a mouthguard.
"It was a weird play, and I took an unfortunate shot," VanVleet said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com. "And so now I will be wearing a mouthpiece for as long as I can manage it. I'll probably throw it at some point during the game, but I'm going to try."
The Warriors played a smart, resourceful game in Game 2 of the NBA Finals and pulled out a five-point victory at Scotiabank Arena in their last road game. They did not have enough juice to pull out a win in either game at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors need Durant to be a significant factor. That may not mean a big scoring night, but they need him on the floor and to serve as a threat. That means making several key shots, even if he can't approach his playoff scoring average.
Based on his short time on the practice floor Sunday, a legitimate Durant-like contribution appears to be out of reach.
The Warriors will play with desperation, but they won't be able to overcome Leonard and Co. The game will be close for three quarters, but the Raptors will smell the championship in the fourth quarter and pull away.
The Raptors win and cover the spread in a game that goes over the total.