Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse provided a practical reason for calling timeout with 3:05 remaining in regulation while his team led the Golden State Warriors 103-97 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday.
According to ESPN.com's Tim Bontemps, Nurse said the timeout was meant to give his players a rest rather than a premature championship celebration: "We just came across and just decided to give those guys a rest. [We] just thought we could use the extra energy push."
The decision seemed to backfire since the Warriors reeled off nine unanswered points after the timeout, with Klay Thompson knocking down two trifectas and Stephen Curry nailing one.
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That allowed Golden State to escape Toronto with a 106-105 victory and send the series back to Oakland for Game 6 with the Warriors trailing 3-2.
Bontemps noted the two-timeout limit inside the final three minutes has resulted in an uptick in the use of timeouts just outside the three-minute mark, much like Nurse did during Monday's game.
Still, the timing was curious given that Kawhi Leonard had reeled off a 10-2 run by himself and helped turn a six-point deficit entering the fourth quarter into a six-point advantage with just over three minutes left.
Toronto appeared destined for its first NBA championship with a 3-1 lead in the series on its home floor.
Golden State seized the momentum back after the timeout even in the wake of Kevin Durant's departure with an Achilles injury in the second quarter. KD had scored 11 points in 12 minutes and given the Warriors a significant boost after he missed the previous nine games with a calf strain.
Per ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski, the Warriors expect an MRI to show Durant suffered a torn Achilles, which would cost him the rest of the NBA Finals and potentially the entire 2019-20 season.
In the midst of Golden State's three-point barrage down the stretch, Toronto missed five of its final six attempts from the field, including a three-point attempt by Kyle Lowry at the buzzer that would have given the Raptors the win and the NBA title had it gone down.
Nurse said Golden State simply made more plays in the closing minutes:
"I think that in this day and age, up six with three minutes to go doesn't mean a whole lot. You got to keep playing and getting good shots and keep guarding. We have been a really good close-game team this year, both ends of the floor. We really guarded in the second half; we held them to 22 each quarter, and I felt good at that point. [We] just needed to make a couple more plays."
With the win, Golden State ensured there will be a Game 6 in Oakland on Thursday, and the crowd will be raucous in part because it will be the final contest ever played at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors face an uphill climb since they need to win two more games without the services of Durant, but Monday's win was the first step toward what could be an all-time great comeback.