OAKLAND, UNITED STATES (AFP, REUTERS) – The Toronto Raptors captured their first NBA crown on Thursday (June 13), defeating Golden State 114-110 to become the first league champion from outside the United States by dethroning the defending titleholders.
Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam each scored 26 points while Kawhi Leonard and reserve Fred VanVleet each added 22 as Toronto won the best-of-seven series four games to two.
The Raptors became the first Canadian club to win a major North American sports title since the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays captured Major League Baseball’s World Series.
“I can’t really think right now, this is crazy. This is awesome man,” said Toronto guard Lowry. “Toronto! Canada! We brought it home baby! We brought it home!”
When the final buzzer sounded, jubilant Raptors fans flooded the streets of downtown Toronto for a night of celebration not seen in the city since Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays last won a World Series title in 1993.
Toronto forward Leonard, who arrived in a blockbuster trade with the San Antonio Spurs last July, was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player.
“Last summer I was going through a lot. I had a great support system, I just kept working hard, working hard and had my mind set on this goal right here,” said Leonard, who last season was limited to nine games due to a quadriceps injury.
“I came to a team, a new coach, and that mindset was the same as mine. This is what I play basketball for, this is what I work out for all summer, during the season and I’m happy that my hard work paid off.”
Klay Thompson scored 30 points to lead the Warriors but left the game with a left knee injury late in the third quarter after landing awkwardly on his left leg.
Injury-hit Golden State was already without two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant, who returned in game five Monday after being sidelined for a month only to suffer a ruptured right Achilles tendon.
Andre Iguodala added 22 points for the Warriors, Stephen Curry had 21 and Draymond Green contributed 11 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists.
Golden State had a final shot to win trailing 111-110 but Curry missed a 3-pointer and Green called a timeout when the team had none, setting up three final free throws by Leonard to seal the victory.
Leonard was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player for the second time in his career after the first in 2014 with San Antonio.
The Raptors spoiled the Warriors’ farewell appearance at Oracle Arena. Golden State’s home since 1971 will be replaced by a new US$1 billion (S$1.36 million) venue in San Francisco next season.
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