Not many of us -- including yours truly -- envisioned this scenario, but here we are.
The Toronto Raptors have earned a 3-1 series lead over the two-time defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals. The series shifts back to Canada on Monday night with Toronto one victory away from sending the Great White North into a wild-but-polite celebration.
Can the Raps close the deal? Here are a pair of questions, along with a prediction, for Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. on ABC15.
Big question for Warriors:
Kevin Durant, Kevin Durant, Kevin Durant. The Warriors have clearly missed the back-to-back NBA Finals MVP as he continues to recover from a calf injury. But Durant practiced Sunday and will reportedly play Monday night.
Even if Durant isn't close to 100 percent, his mere presence on the court could create a domino effect in terms of the Raptors simply having to account for him. It would open things up significantly for Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and the rest of the team. Will he suit up -- and if he doesn't, will we ever see him in a Warriors jersey again?
Big question for Raptors:
Will Kawhi continue to get support? The Raptors' three wins in this series have all come when they have received significant contributions from someone other than superstar Kawhi Leonard. In Game 4, Pascal Siakam (19 points, six rebounds) had another strong outing, and Serge Ibaka added 20 points off the bench.
Leonard is likely to get at least his usual numbers -- 25-30 points, 7-8 rebounds -- on Monday night. If at least two of his teammates -- any two-man combination of Siakam, Ibaka, Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry, Danny Green and Fred VanVleet -- score in double figures while shooting close to 50 percent from the floor, the Raptors have an excellent chance of closing out the defending champs.
This should be fascinating. We've never seen this Warriors team this desperate in an NBA Finals series. Even when they lost to Cleveland three years ago, they never trailed in the series until falling in the final minute of Game 7.
If Durant plays, I think he'll do enough -- even as just a distraction -- to push the series back to Oakland for a Game 6. (Truth be told, my gut is telling me Toronto will close it out. But I picked the Warriors to win before the series began, so I'm being stubborn.) Warriors 103, Raptors 102