The Toronto Raptors made the most of the injuries to forward Kevin Durant and guard Klay Thmpson to beat the Golden State Warriors 114-110 in Game 6 of the NBA finals at Oracle Arena on Thursday to win the best-of-seven series 4-2 and become the new NBA champions.
The Raptors, who were playing their first NBA finals, made history by becoming the first non-US team to win the NBA Championship.
Although Raptors' star guard Kawhi Leonard sealed the win with three free throws in the closing second to end with a total of 22 points, it was the reserves, point guard Fred VanVleet and forward Serge Ibaka, who were the real heroes of the game.
VanVleet was decisive in the fourth quarter with a record five 3-pointers and 22 points while Ibaka scored another key 15 points.
Point guard Stephen Curry proved to be the biggest letdown, when he missed a 3-pointer with eight seconds left and the score at 110-111, which would have led to a completely different outcome of the game.
Curry, as he has done throughout the series, disappeared when his team needed him the most, when Thompson was forced to go off the court with an injury with 2:22 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
That is when the Warriors, who ended the period ahead at 88-86, lost the game without a player who could make the shots to turn the game in their favor.
That is exactly what VanVleet did with 5-of-11 3-pointers and 5-of-5 from the free throw line while center Pascal Siakam and point guard Kyle Lowry scored 26 points each to finish as the top scorers for the Canadian team.
Although Leonard was not the top scorer this time, unlike Curry, he made crucial shots and ended with 22 points, the fifth Raptors' player with a double-digit score.
He was named the 2019 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player for his brilliant performance in the five previous games.
Ibaka, exceptional in the paint, played for 22 minutes and was the most effective player in the Raptors' attack, shooting 7-of-12 from the field and 1-of-2 from the free throw line.
He also captured three rebounds and gave two assists while committing four personal fouls.
Thompson was the top scorer for the Warriors with 30 points, going 8-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-6 3-pointers, while guard Andre Iguodala made 22 points.
Curry had 21 points and seven assists but they proved insufficient to take the Warriors to their third straight win in five NBA finals.
Once again, power forward Draymond Green emerged as the most complete player of the Warriors with a triple-double of 11 points, 19 rebounds and 13 assists along with three steals and two blocks.
But he was also behind eight of the 16 turnovers the Warriors had in the game, which was yet another factor in their loss.