Game 5 of the NBA Finals kicks off Monday night at 9pm. The Raptors clicked off 2 road wins in Golden State to go up 3-1 and bring them to the cusp of their first NBA Championship. The Warriors still have hope to bring back Kevin Durant during this series to save them and their chances of capturing the championship. It might end up being too little, too late.
The Raptors get this game at home and opened up as -2.5 point favorites to finish the series and take home the title. Since then the game has been bet down -2 and even -1.5 at some books as rumors of Durants return float around the betting public. I personally wouldn't put too much stock in Durant returning to the lineup and being effective. He has not played since the 2nd round of the playoffs and will likely be a bit rusty out there. Teams with a 3-1 series lead in the Finals have a 32-1 record. Couple that with Toronto on the brink of the title, playing with that added intensity, and the energy and frenzy that the home crowd will bring and I just think this series is over.
I've seen this script play out before numerous times, when teams get this close to the ultimate prize they find a way to close it out. I predict the Raptors continue to do what they've done all series. Find a way to win this game no matter what the Warriors throw at them. However, if, and it's a big IF, the Warriors do find a way to escape game 5 with a win it could turn the whole series around quickly. They would then get to go back home, and assuming Durant returns he will have a few extra days to rest up and get his basketball legs back. I highly doubt the Warriors would lose a 3rd home game in a row, so the logic goes they pick up game 6 tying the series at 3-3, then it's on to Toronto for the deciding game 7. All the pressure would then be on the home team to not choke away the once 3-1 lead. There would be, at best, nervous excitement from the home crowd, not the overwhelming display of energy that will be there in game 5. By that point it is possible that the Warriors have returned to their previous nearly unbeatable form and take game 7 and the complete the 3-peat. I don't expect that to happen though. Raptors take home the NBA Championship Monday Night and Kawhi Leonard hoists the Finals MVP trophy.