On May 30th, 2019, the Toronto Raptors hosted the Golden State Warriors and beat them 118-109 to take a 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals, becoming the first team outside of the United States to host a finals game, and obviously the only one to win.
I think that all Raptors fans can agree – even if you refuse to admit it now – that even without Kevin Durant, no one really expected the Raptors to win. The Raptors fanbase was just happy to make the Finals – winning them, especially against the Warriors, kind of felt like a fever dream.
And if you can’t agree… well then maybe I can’t read a room, but that is at least how I felt.
Obviously, that didn’t mean I wasn’t hoping for a miracle, but after years of having my heart crushed by Lebron, a win in the conference finals was all of the serotonin I needed for an entire year, watching them compete for the Larry O’Brien trophy was just the icing on the cake; win or lose this season was a success.
And That’s What Made This Game Even Better
For the most part, fans entered Game One with no real expectations.
You have to understand, even with the injuries this series was a classic David vs. Goliath story in the making.
The Golden State Warriors, one of the best teams in modern history, and the Toronto Raptors… well they were just happy to have an opportunity for Americans to actually watch them play.
So naturally, just like when they played LeBron, at least one win would be a success. “Let’s just not get swept” was the only thing going through my mind before tip off.
The “Hol’ Up” Moment
But then they actually tipped off and Toronto didn’t look like a team who wasn’t just happy to be there, they kind of looked like they could win this whole thing.
Throughout the game, as the Raptors consistently held a double-digit lead, I went from thinking Toronto may have a chance to steal one or two games to believing that they could win the whole thing.
It was just the way the team played.
It was clear that the Raptors wanted it more and as a fan, how could you not get behind that?
Pascal Siakam, who didn’t have the best series against Milwaukee snapped for 32 points on 12/17 shooting – then a career-high in the playoffs – both Kawhi Leonard and Marc Gasol had scored at least 20 too and now, all of a sudden, the Golden State Warriors didn’t seem so invincible!
I will always remember Game One of the 2019 NBA finals as the day that the Toronto Raptors became more than just “that team in Canada.”
May 30th, 2019 was the day when the Toronto Raptors and their fans made themselves known to the rest of the world.