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2019 NBA Finals
2019 NBA Finals logo.png
Team Coach Wins
Toronto Raptors Nick Nurse 4
Golden State Warriors Steve Kerr 2
Dates: May 30–June 13
MVP: Kawhi Leonard
(Toronto Raptors)
Eastern Finals: Raptors defeated Bucks, 4-2
Western Finals: Warriors defeated Trail Blazers, 4–0

The 2019 NBA Finals was the championship series of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 2018–19 season and conclusion of the season's playoffs.

In the best-of-seven playoff series held from May 30 through June 13, 2019, the Eastern Conference champion Toronto Raptors defeated the defending two-time NBA champion and Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors4–2, earning the franchise its first NBA championship as well as the first win by an NBA team based outside the United States. Acquired by the Raptors via a trade during the off-season, Kawhi Leonard was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the second time in his career.

This was the first NBA Finals appearance for the Raptors, and the league's first finals with games played outside of the United States. Home-court advantage was awarded to Toronto, who finished the regular season with one more win (58–24) than Golden State (57–25). This was the first time in five consecutive NBA Finals appearances that the then-two-time defending NBA-champions Warriors did not have a home-court advantage. Also, for the first time after the past four postseasons, the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers did not meet in the championship round, also making it the first Finals since 2014 not to include the Cavs. 

This was the first Finals since 2010 not to include LeBron James, who played in the past eight Finals four each with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. This was also the first Finals until 2012 in which a team made its first trip to the NBA Finals in its franchise history, the first since 2006 where a team made its first trip and won, and the first since 2016 where a team won its first championship.

The Warriors were the first team since the 1960s Boston Celtics to go to five straight finals and the first Western Conference team to do so. As of 2021, this was last time that the Warriors made the Finals.

2019 NBA Playoffs

Golden State Warriors (Western Conference Champion) Toronto Raptors (Eastern Conference Champion)
57–25 (.695)

1st Pacific, 1st West, 3rd Overall

Regular season 58–24 (.707)

1st Atlantic, 2nd East, 2nd Overall

Defeated the (8) Los Angeles Clippers, 4–2 First Round Defeated the (7) Orlando Magic, 4–1
Defeated the (4) Houston Rockets, 4–2 Conference Semifinals Defeated the (3) Philadelphia 76ers, 4–3
Defeated the (3) Portland Trail Blazers, 4–0 Conference Finals Defeated the (1) Milwaukee Bucks, 4–2

Background

Golden State Warriors

During the off-season, Golden State acquired DeMarcus Cousins, who was recovering from a ruptured left Achilles. He gave the Warriors a true, top-flight center for the first time under head coach Steve Kerr. During an overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in November 2018, Draymond Green cursed out teammate Kevin Durant over his upcoming free agency status after the season, and he was suspended for the much-publicized blowup. In January 2019, Cousins returned, and the Warriors became the first team in 42 years with a starting lineup of five NBA All-Stars from the previous season. The team finished the regular season with a 57–25 record, winning the Pacific Division and securing the 1st seed in the Western Conference.

In the playoffs, Golden State defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in six games in the first round, despite blowing double-digit leads at home in Games 2 and 5. Cousins tore his left quadriceps in Game 2, and was initially thought to be out for the remainder of the postseason. With an increased urgency and in a sign of respect towards their opponent, Kerr opened the following round against the Houston Rockets by moving Andre Iguodala from the bench and starting the Hamptons Five for the first time in the season. With the Splash Brothers—Warriors guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson—struggling with their shooting, Durant had been the team's best player in the playoffs, averaging a team-leading 35.4 points entering Game 5. However, Durant left the game late in the third quarter after suffering a strained right calf; he was later ruled out indefinitely. Led by Curry and Thompson, Golden State pulled out Game 5 without Durant, and won the series in six games. In the Western Conference Finals, Golden State swept the Portland Trail Blazers 4–0, with three of the wins including comebacks of 15 points or more. After starting nine consecutive games, Iguodala missed the deciding Game 4 with a sore left calf injury from Game 3. Curry averaged a series career-high 36.5 points, the highest average by a player in a four-game sweep in NBA history. This was Golden State's fifth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals, and they were aiming for 3-peat titles. They were the second team in NBA history to achieve this feat, joining the Boston Celtics, who played in ten straight Finals (19571966), and the first Western Conference team to do so.

Toronto Raptors

During the off-season, the Raptors fired coach Dwane Casey, who was named the 2018 NBA Coach of the Year weeks later, and replaced him with assistant coach Nick Nurse. They also traded DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Pöltl to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. The move stunned the All-Star DeRozan, who had become a fan favorite in his nine seasons in Toronto. It was a risky move for the Raptors and their president, Masai Ujiri, as Leonard was one year away from becoming a free agent, and he wanted to leave the Spurs after playing in just nine games in 2017–18 due to tendinopathy in his left quadriceps. However, the 2014 NBA Finals MVP made it through the season healthy while being systematically rested for 22 games. During the season, Toronto also traded a package that included Jonas Valančiūnas to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for one of the league's elite post-defenders, Marc Gasol.

The Raptors lost Game 1 of the first round to the Orlando Magic, but then they won the next four games in a row and won the series in five games. After trailing 2–1 against the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, they defeated them in seven games, with Leonard hitting the game-winner over Joel Embiid at the buzzer as the ball bounced four times on the rim before falling in, the first buzzer beater in a Game 7 in the NBA playoffs. Toronto advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the Milwaukee Bucks. Despite trailing 2–0, the Raptors won the next four games to advance to the Finals in six games, as Leonard outplayed the Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, who won his first league MVP that season. This was their first trip to the NBA Finals in franchise history, breaking a 25-year drought for teams from Toronto appearing in the championship round of any of the four major North American professional sports leagues since Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays won the 1993 World Series over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Series summary

Game Date Home Team Result Road Team
Game 1 May 30 Toronto 118–109 Golden State
Game 2 June 2 Toronto 104–109 Golden State
Game 3 June 5 Golden State 109–123 Toronto
Game 4 June 7 Golden State 92–105 Toronto
Game 5 June 10 Toronto 105–106 Golden State
Game 6 June 13 Golden State 110–114 Toronto

NBA Finals series

Game 1

Pascal Siakam scored a playoff career-high 32 points on 14-of-17 shooting to lead Toronto to a 118–109 win over Golden State in the first-ever NBA Finals game played outside the United States. The Raptors had a 10-point lead at the half. Siakam, the NBA Most Improved Player that season, shot 6-for-6 in the third quarter to keep the Warriors at bay. Toronto maintained a double-digit lead for most of the fourth quarter, countering every rally by Golden State.

Leonard had 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists in his first NBA Finals game since he was named the Finals MVP in 2014 with the San Antonio Spurs. Gasol added 20 for the Raptors. Curry scored 34 and Thompson had 21 for Golden State, which had won Game 1 of the Finals in each of the last four years. Draymond Green had a triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. Cousins returned from a quadriceps injury to come off the bench in his first NBA Finals game. After missing Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals with a left calf injury, Iguodala left near the end of this game after limping and favoring his right leg. Durant, the MVP of the last two NBA Finals, traveled with the team to Toronto, but remained sidelined.

Game 2

Thompson scored a team-high 25 points, and the Warriors outscored the Raptors 18–0 to start the second half before holding off a late Toronto rally to win 109–104. Thompson had 18 points in the first half to keep Golden State in the game. They trailed by 11 with almost two minutes left until halftime before cutting it to 59–54 at the half. The Warriors' 18 unanswered points to begin the second half were the most in NBA Finals history to start a half. Thompson left the game in the fourth quarter with a left hamstring injury after landing awkwardly on a three-point field goal attempt. Toronto scored 10 straight points to pull within two points at 106–104, but Iguodala cemented the win with a three-pointer with 5.9 seconds remaining in the game.

Curry finished the game with 23 points after missing his first six shots of the game. Cousins, who was moved into the starting lineup, had 11 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists, and Draymond Green had 17 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists to fall one assist short of his fourth straight triple-double. Warriors backup center Kevon Looney missed the second half with a chest contusion. Leonard led the Raptors with 34 points and 14 rebounds, and Fred VanVleet added 17 points. Game 1 star Siakam scored just 12 points on 5-for-18 shooting. Toronto was held to 37.2 percent shooting for the game.

Game 3

Leonard scored 30 points and the Raptors shot 52.4 percent and made 17 three-pointers to win 123–109 on the road over the short-handed Warriors. Curry scored a playoff career-high 47 points, shooting 14 for 31 including 6 of 14 on 3-pointers, while his teammates totaled 62 points on 36.7 percent shooting. Golden State played without injured starters Thompson and Durant, and backup big man Looney. Toronto's Kyle Lowry had 23 points and five 3-pointers, and Danny Green added 18 points on 6 made 3s, as all five of their starters scored in double figures. VanVleet contributed 11 points off the bench.

Thompson practiced earlier in the day but did not warm up for the game. Kerr had said that the Warriors were not going to play him if there was risk of further damage. Looney was out with a cartilage fracture near his right collarbone.

Game 4

Toronto took a 3–1 lead in the series after Leonard scored 36 points and had 12 rebounds in a 105–92 road win over Golden State. The Raptors fell behind by 11 early in the contest, and trailed 46–42 at halftime. They outscored the Warriors 37–21 in the third quarter, when Leonard scored 17 of his points, and led by as many as 16 in the final quarter. Serge Ibaka scored 20 points for Toronto, shooting 9 for 12 in 22 minutes off the bench. Thompson returned from injury to lead Golden State with 28 points, including six 3-pointers.

Siakam added 19 points for the Raptors. VanVleet needed seven stitches in the fourth quarter after the Warriors' Shaun Livingston inadvertently elbowed him in the face. The only other player to score over 10 points for Golden State, Curry had 27 points, but shot just 9 for 22 and missed 7 of his 9 three-point attempts. Looney returned to score 10 points after Kerr initially declared him out for the series following his Game 2 injury.

Game 5

Curry scored 31 points and Thompson had 26 to help the Warriors stave off elimination with a 106–105 win at Toronto. They combined for three straight 3-pointers after the Raptors led by six points with 3+12 minutes left in the game. Durant returned after missing the previous nine games with his right calf injury, and scored 11 points in the first quarter. However, he was lost for the game two minutes into the second quarter when he tried to drive by Ibaka and suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon, falling and grabbing his lower right calf. He limped off the court and was helped to the locker room. Leonard scored 10 straight points in the fourth quarter to erase Golden State's 14-point lead. Lowry's potential game-winning, 3-point shot at the buzzer fell short after it was partially blocked by Draymond Green.

Golden State made 20 three-pointers, the second most in NBA Finals history behind Cleveland's 24 against the Warriors in Game 4 in 2017. Cousins, who did not enter the game until Durant's injury, had 14 points and six rebounds for the Warriors, and Green added 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Leonard had 26 points for the Raptors, while Lowry added 18 and Gasol 17 to lead six Raptors in double figures. Golden State played most of the second half without Looney, who aggravated his cartilage fracture after colliding with Lowry while battling for a rebound.

Durant left the arena on crutches and in a walking boot. "I don't believe there's anybody to blame" [for Durant's injury], "but I understand in this world, and if you have to, you can blame me", said Bob Myers, the Warriors' president of basketball operations. Durant underwent surgery to repair the tendon and was at risk of missing all of the following season. Originally expected to become a free agent after the 2018–19 season, he had a $31.5 million option to remain with Golden State for another season, but it was ultimately his last appearance with the Warriors, after a sign-and-trade to the Brooklyn Nets the following month.

Nurse was criticized for calling a timeout with Toronto up 103–97 after going on a 12–2 run; the Splash Brothers' three 3-pointers came after the break. In its Last Two Minutes report, the NBA stated that Cousins should have been called for a shooting foul on Gasol with 49 seconds left in the game, which would have given Gasol two free throws with the Raptors trailing 106–103 at the time.

Game 6

Leonard scored 22 points and had six rebounds and was named the NBA Finals MVP after Toronto won 114–110 over Golden State to claim its first championship in franchise history. Thompson scored a game-high 30 points for the Warriors, but was lost for the game with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter after landing awkwardly and suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee on a drive to the basket contested by Danny Green. The Warriors managed to remain in the game until a missed 3-pointer by Curry in the final seconds of the game. Trying to secure the ball after the miss, Golden State called a timeout, but they did not have any left, and were assessed a technical foul. It was academic, as time would have otherwise expired had they not attempted to stop the clock. Leonard was awarded free throws.

Lowry and Siakam led Toronto with 26 points each. Lowry scored 11 of his points in the first two-plus minutes of the contest. Van Vleet finished with 22 points, including 12 in the final period, and made five of the team's 13 three-pointers. Siakam added 10 rebounds. Curry had 21 points for Golden State, but he was hounded by the Raptors in the fourth quarter without Durant or Thompson available. Draymond Green had a triple-double with 11 points, 19 rebounds, and 13 assists, but committed eight turnovers. Iguodala had 22 points despite shooting only 1 of 5 on free throws.

Leonard averaged 28.5 points per game in the series, and joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as the only players to be named Finals MVP with two different teams. Toronto was the first Canadian team to win the NBA title and the first non-American team to win any of the Big Four North American sports titles since the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball won the World Series in October 1993, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. This was the Warriors' last game ever at Oracle Arena, as they moved to the new Chase Center across the bay in San Francisco at the beginning of the 2019–20 season. They finished 0–3 at home in the series.

Preceded by
2018
NBA Finals
2019
Succeeded by
2020
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