First things first let’s start with not the only reason but if not for this reason the others wouldn’t even truly matter and that is of course The Claw Kawai Leonard. Kawai has been playing lights out through this entire playoff run and has been putting up legendary numbers in the process. Some of these numbers include 11 games with at least 30 points joining Michael Jordan with 12 (1989) and Hakeem Olajuwon with 12 (1995) as the only players to do so. His road play consists of averages of 31.0 points per game which makes him the 14th player in NBA history with that average in a single postseason. At one point in the series against the Bucks Kawai was averaging 38 PPG on 62% shooting which has only been done by Michael Jordan in a single playoff series. Safe to say Kawai has been in straight terminator mode throughout the playoffs and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Now people may say “yeah but this isn’t against the Warriors” which they would be absolutely correct in saying so. But let’s ponder Kawai’s history against the defending champs. In game one of the 2017 Playoffs before Kawai suffered an ankle injury after getting tangled up with Zaza Pachulia Kawai was destroying the Warriors. In Kevin Durant’s Warrior debut, he led a 29–point thrashing of the champions and in his only game against the Warriors as a Raptor he put up 37 points. This proves Kawai is no stranger to success against the champions and with the hot streak he has been on in this year’s playoffs there is no reason to believe the success would not continue.
This is not the only factor working in the raptors favor either. They for one have home court advantage which is always a plus especially when facing a team of the Warriors caliber. This also with the fact the Raptors have an 8-2 home playoff record to go along with their 32-9 regular season home record shows home truly is where the heart is with this team and a game 7 in Toronto favors them heavily.
Another important detail is Kevin Durant status of returning is still not confirmed yet. While the warriors have still proven to be a strong force without KD in the mix still the notion of him not playing is always a plus for any team having to do battle with the defending champions. With all of this going for Toronto this could possibly be a perfect setup for a changing of the guard in the NBA with the Raptors having their first shot at an NBA finals trophy in franchise history. While easier said than done if any team has a favorable chance at taking down the titans that are the Golden State Warriors it may just be the Toronto Raptors led by Kawai Leonard.
Rafferty, Scott. “NBA Playoffs 2019: Five Stats to Know from Kawhi Leonard’s Epic Game 4 Performance.” NBA.com, NBA IN, 5 May 2019, in.nba.com/news/nba-playoffs-2019-five-stats-to-know-from-kawhi-leonards-epic-game-4-performance/b6xa2jbt4nw319dm0qi341s0t?bcmt=1.
“Toronto Raptors.” NBA Stats, stats.nba.com/team/1610612761/traditional/?Season=2018-19&SeasonType=Playoffs.
Zarum , Dave. “By The Numbers: Kawhi Leonard’s 2019 Playoff Run among Best All-Time.” Sportsnet.ca, 24 May 2019, 2:32, http://www.sportsnet.ca/basketball/nba/numbers-kawhi-leonards-2019-playoff-run-among-best-time/.
Ziller, Tom, and Mike Prada. “6 Reasons the Raptors Can and Will Beat the Warriors.” SBNation.com, SBNation.com, 28 May 2019, http://www.sbnation.com/2019/5/28/18641824/nba-finals-2019-picks-predictions-raptors-vs-warriors.