Changing of the guard

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GREEN BAY, Wis —

There’s a new sheriff on the NBA block.  And the Toronto Raptors have done what most thought was unthinkable, dethroning the champs from Golden State.  To be fair, the Warriors went from being the favorites, to being the underdog when Kevin Durant got hurt.  Despite his future in free agency, it doesn’t really affect his legacy as a Warrior and two time finals MVP, and now that he’s had surgery for that torn achilles, his impact on the court probably won’t take place until sometime in 2020.  In game 6, Toronto proved they were the deeper and more talented by beating the greatest team of the past five years.  And this wasn’t just the Kawhi Leonard show.  The Raptors were 17-5 without their finals MVP during the regular season and 4 players had 20 or more points in the victory.  Leonard was clearly the best player in the series and this is the second team that he’s led in taking down a dynasty.  He was also the finals MVP when he won a championship in 2014 with San Antonio, and that ended up being LeBron James last game with Miami and the entire process has a bit of redemption. 

“Last year, a lot of people were doubting me.  They thought I was either faking an injury or didn’t want to play for a team.”  Leonard said.  “That was disappointing to go me that that was out in the media, because I love the game of basketball.  Like I always say, if we’re not playing this game, if we’re hurt, I mean you’re down.  So me just going through that, and I just knew that I would have to make myself happy and no one else.” 

The journey has been quite a roller coaster for the Raptors when you look at what they accomplished in this years playoffs.  They lost their post season opener to Orlando at home and then they rattled off 4 straight wins to take the series.  Then they fell behind 2-1 against Philadelphia (who was the popular underdog pick by many) and then won 3 out of 4 with a dramatic buzzer beater to end that series.  Then came our Milwaukee Bucks.  The top seed in the Eastern Conference quickly went up 2-0 at home and had a chance to win game 3 on the road after forcing overtime.  But of course we here in Wisconsin know how that ended.  Four straight wins by Toronto and they were headed to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.  But no one except the Raptors themselves could have thought they would walk into Oracle Arena and win all three of their road games.  What might be even more amazing, is that Toronto traded their best player last year in Demar Derozan and fired Dwane Casey who was the 2018 NBA coach of the year.  Nobody knows just where Toronto will go from here, but it may be the end of an era in Golden State.  Klay Thompson will be out with a torn ACL and even though he’s a free agent, his father said there’s no question he’ll re-sign with the Warriors.  And the other “splash brother” is confident their reign is only over temporarily. 

“We’ve played a lot of basketball, get away from the game a little bit, refresh the minds, guys go through some rehabs and get back stronger.” Curry stated.  “Next season will be next season, and we’ll come back with the right mentality.  So it’s kind of hard to talk about because it’s a tough way to go out and it’s tough to lose in The Finals, but the story’s not over yet.”

Draymond Green added:

“I think everybody thinks it’s kind of the end of us.  But that’s just not smart.  We’re not done yet.  We lost this year.  Clearly just wasn’t our year, but that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes.  But, yeah, I hear a lot of that noise, it’s the end of a run and all that jazz.  I don’t see it happening though.  We’ll be back.”

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