Kawhi Leonard, Raptors push Warriors to the brink with Game 5 win at Oracle

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Toronto is headed back home with a 3-1 lead over the Warriors in the NBA Finals. The Raptors swept a pair of games against Golden State at Oracle Arena, including Friday's 105-92 Game 4 win as five-point underdogs. Kawhi Leonard led the way with 36 points and 12 rebounds.

The Toronto Raptors took complete command of the NBA Finals and put the Golden State Warriors on the brink of elimination after capturing a 105-92 win in Friday’s Game 4 at Oracle Arena. Nick Nurse’s team turned a four-point halftime deficit into a 12-point lead by outscoring Golden State 37-21 in the third quarter.

The Warriors, in search of their third consecutive NBA title, never got closer than eight in the final stanza. Toronto won outright as a five-point underdog, hooking up money-line supporters with a +180 return. The 197 combined points dropped “under” the 215-point total.

Kawhi Leonard destroyed the Warriors with 36 points, 12 rebounds, four steals, one blocked shot and two assists without a turnover. The seventh-year forward out of San Diego State drained back-to-back 3-pointers – and made a steal between those triples — to start the second half, giving the Raptors their first lead after trailing by double digits late in the opening quarter.

When Golden State trimmed the deficit to eight, Pascal Siakam drew a foul from Draymond Green. His two free throws extended the lead to 10. After a stop at the defensive end, Siakam inserted the dagger with a 17-foot jumper to give Toronto a 101-89 advantage with 2:06 remaining.

Golden State hasn’t had an answer for Leonard’s pick-and-roll game with Siakam the entire series. The third-year forward out of New Mexico State went for 19 points and five rebounds in Game 4. Serge Ibaka turned in a tremendous performance with 20 points, four rebounds and two blocked shots in merely 21 minutes of playing time. Ibaka hit 9-of-12 field-goal attempts.

Kyle Lowry added 10 points, three steals, two rebounds and seven assists compared to two turnovers. Marc Gasol contributed nine points, seven rebounds, three assists and one steal.

Fred VanVleet has been a force off the bench during the Finals. The Wichita State product hit a crucial trey to end a 6-0 Golden State run, pulling the Raptors to within two after they had briefly taken the lead early in the third quarter. VanVleet saw his night end early when an inadvertent elbow from Shaun Livingston caught him in the face.

The accidental bone left VanVleet laying on his back with blood dripping from a cut under his right eye. ABC cameras caught a tooth of his that was still in the lane even after play had re-started. Nevertheless, VanVleet finished with eight points, four rebounds and six assists compared to a pair of turnovers.

Leonard has scored at least 30 points in three straight games. He’s averaging 31.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.6 steals per in 22 playoff games.

Golden State had scored at least 100 points in 25 consecutive postseason games. Outside of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the rest of the Warriors went 0-for-8 from beyond the arc. They committed 19 costly turnovers.

The Splash Brothers got theirs in the losing effort, but they didn’t have much help. After missing Game 3 with a hamstring injury, Thompson buried 11-of-18 FGAs and 6-of-10 launches from 3-point land in a 28-point effort. Curry finished with 27 points, six assists and four rebounds. As usual, Green stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds, two blocked shots and one steal.

Kevon Looney was believed to be out for the rest of the series with a collarbone injury sustained in Game 2. However, after seeking a second opinion, he was given the green light for Game 4. Looney contributed 10 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes of action.

DeMarcus Cousins is playing at less than 100 percent after being injured early in the postseason. In nearly 15 minutes of playing time, Cousins had six points, four rebounds, two blocks and one assist, but he had four turnovers. Quinn Cook, who made three crucial 3-pointers in his team’s Game 2 win, went 0-of-5 from the field in a scoreless effort.

With a 3-1 series lead, Toronto (73-31 straight up, 51-53 against the spread) will go for the kill shot in Monday’s Game 5 back home at Scotiabank Arena. As of Saturday afternoon, most books had the Raptors installed as three-point favorites with a total of 211.5 or 212 points. The Warriors were +135 on the money line for the 9:07 p.m. Eastern telecast on ABC.

The number was reduced to two at most spots by Sunday afternoon, and the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas went down to -1.5. The total was up to 213.5 or 214 at most shops, and Golden State was down to +110 on the money line.

Then on Monday morning, Kevin Durant and VanVleet were both upgraded to “probable” for Game 5. This prompted all books to make the Raptors 1.5-point favorites, and the a lot of shops moved the tally to 214.5 points.

Sportsbook’s updated series price had Toronto as the -625 “chalk,” leaving the Warriors as +450 underdogs. That was Saturday afternoon, however. The Raptors were moved to -500, leaving Golden State as a +375 underdog early Monday afternoon.

And here’s your 4:12 p.m. Eastern update on the odds: The Westgate now has the Warriors as one-point favorites, while most other shops have it as a pick ’em or Toronto -1. The Westgate’s updated series price is Toronto -425, with Golden State at +325.

Leonard went into Game 4 as the even-money favorite to win Finals MVP honors for the second time in his career. Now he’s the -400 “chalk” to win the award.

Of course, Leonard was the 2014 NBA Finals MVP when he took it to LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Speaking of LeBron, he remains home for these playoffs, uninvited for the first time in his storied career.

On that note, it appears clear that James has been unseated as the world’s best player. Hell, if not for Zaza Pachulia’s contest on Leonard’s corner jumper at Oracle Arena that ended his 2017 postseason and basically his entire run with the San Antonio Spurs, Leonard might’ve already been sitting on that throne.

That injury didn’t allow Leonard the opportunity to bring Golden State’s run of NBA Finals appearances to a halt. Ah, but revenge is a dish best served cold anyway. And in these 2019 NBA Finals, Leonard is dishing it to the Warriors – and their fans, iconic arena and dynasty — in cold-blooded fashion.

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