From Kevin Durant suffering an Achilles injury to Kyle Lowry missing the championship clincher, here are the moments that defined game five of the NBA finals

By Nicole Ganglani | Photo from Inquirer Sports | Art by Tricia Guevara

In a basketball game, there always comes a point where so much is at stake, especially towards the dying minutes of the game. The last few seconds of game five saw the NBA championship slipping right out of the hands of the Toronto Raptors and into the palms of the Splash Brothers who saved the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty. 

Here are five make-or-break moments that had everyone on the edge of their seats:

Kevin Durant’s Season-Ending Injury

For the first 12 minutes of game five, the defending champions looked as if they were back on track. Their star player, Kevin Durant was after all seeing action once again after missing the past nine games with a calf strain injury. It did not take long for the two-time defending finals MVP to takeover as he scored 11 of the Warriors’ 34 points in the first quarter. Everything seemed to be going right for Golden State until they witnessed their all star suffer a tragic Achilles injury. 

The Warriors were once upon a time considered to be unstoppable. It was only during Durant’s injury when everyone realized that the team needed him more than they thought. It’s become clear that the Raptors have more depth, offensive power, and confidence now that Durant is gone. The pressure is now on the Dubs to find ways to get their offensive flow going, especially since they’re still on the brink of elimination.

Kawhi Leonard Goes Full-On Michael Jordan

The thing with Kawhi Leonard is that you don’t really feel his presence all the time. He’s a silent scorer that dominates the game in a passive way. In game five, he had “dynasty murderer” written all over him after scoring 12 of the Raptors’ 16 points in the fourth quarter. Toronto was so close to stealing the championship from the Warriors thanks to Leonard bringing the Raptors up by six with less than three minutes left in the game. Kawhi finished game five with 26 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks—another impressive performance by the best player in the playoffs this season. 

The Splash Brothers Live to Splash Another Day

If it weren’t for Klay Thompson’s three-point shot (which gave the Warriors a 106-103 lead in the last 56 seconds of the game), Golden State could have lost it all. Steph Curry and Thompson are the reasons why the defending champions fought to see another day. Down six with two minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Splash Brothers sparked a 9-0 run after hitting three straight clutch three pointers. Curry finished the game with 30 points—making him the sixth player in NBA history with ten 30-plus point games in the finals. With or without Durant, the Warriors knew that they can always count on the Splash Brothers—and that’s exactly what they did in game five. 

Kyle Lowry Missed the Championship-Clinching Shot

The Raptors were so close to completing the perfect storybook ending but it was ruined by a missed Kyle Lowry three-pointer. Despite missing what was probably the most crucial shot of his career, Lowry remains to be a huge asset for the Raptors. However, Toronto could have made a better decision in the last eight seconds of the game by calling a timeout and setting up a play for Leonard to take the game-winning dagger.

The Series Heads Back to Golden State

Oracle Arena will officially host its last NBA game, and it’s going to be interesting to witness if the Dubs can defend their homecourt this time around. It’s unlikely for the Warriors to lose three straight games at home but the Raptors have also proved that they can take down the defending champions anywhere. Will we finally see the Raptors clinch the title at Oracle this Friday? Or will the Durant-less Warriors tie the series and force a game seven? It’s too soon to tell at this point, but maybe that’s exactly what makes the game so special.

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