Jumping on the Raptors' bandwagon? Here's what to know
Published Wednesday, May 29, 2019 10:47AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 10, 2019 2:00PM EDT
Canadian basketball fans are still pinching themselves with the unprecedented success of the Toronto Raptors.
With the opportunity to take home their first NBA championship Monday, the Raptors playoff story—24 years in the making—has captured the imagination of sports fans, not just in Canada’s biggest city, but around the world.
It all started in May when Raps small forward Kawhi Leonard helped Toronto secure a place in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks with one of the most dramatic buzzer beaters in NBA playoff history.
After taking the series, the team has pulled off three wins against two-time defending champs Golden State Warriors.
Winning Monday’s game and clinching the title would cap an historic post-season run that has captured sent Raptors fans, old and new, into a frenzy.
Jumping on the Toronto Raptors bandwagon?
We’ve got you covered with a who’s who and what to know ahead of game five of the finals, which starts at 9 p.m. ET Monday.
Players and Characters
The undisputed star of the current Raptors’ roster is Kawhi Leonard.
The 27-year-old American, nicknamed The Klaw, is recognized for the defensive skills that earned him NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016.
But he is also an offensive threat, putting up big numbers in the playoffs where he averaged 31.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists.
The media-shy superstar is on the record saying how much he dislikes interviews, and you won’t find him on social media either.
The Raps point guard Kyle Lowry has also won even more admirers for his on-court tenacity throughout the playoffs.
The team is led by rookie NBA coach Nick Nurse, who has just been called up to coach the Canadian men’s basketball team this summer.
No mention of the Raptors success would be complete without a reference to their biggest celebrity fan, ambassador and courtside hype-man Drake.
The Toronto-native and rap superstar has won fans and a few detractors for his enthusiastic courtside support of the Raps and riling fans of opposing teams.
For the Golden State Warriors star player Steph Curry, his return to Toronto is a homecoming of sorts.
His father Dell played for the Raptors and he spent a number of years in Toronto as a child, playing for the Queensway Christian College Saints in 2001 and 2002.
Other players for Raptors fans to beware include outstanding shooter Klay Thompson and superstar Kevin Durant, who has been off the court for over a month with a strained right calf.
However, Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr said Monday that Durant may return for game five against the Raptors, noting that it would be a “game-time decision”—one that could shake things up for the Raps.
Best of Seven
The NBA Finals are played as a best of seven game series.
If the Raptors’ lose tonight’s game, the series would go back to Oakland for game six on Thursday. Should the Raptors win upon return to Oakland, game seven would take place on home court at Scotiabank arena.
It may be too late to grab tickets to tonight’s game, but it would have put a serious dent in your savings if you had.
As of Monday afternoon, the lowest advertised ticket price for game five on ticket reseller site StubHub was listed at US$1,485 (CAD$1,970) in the 300s section of Scotiabank Arena.
A pair of courtside seats were listed at an eye-watering US$62,622 (CAD$83,083).