About Last Night: Kawhi's Raptors poised to pull off stunner after taking 3-1 NBA Finals lead on Warriors

About Last Night: Kawhi's Raptors poised to pull off stunner after taking 3-1 NBA Finals lead on Warriors

What we’re talking about: Toronto Kawhi-etly on the cusp of first NBA title  

It’s not like the Golden State Warriors haven’t had their backs to the wall before, but this feels different. It feels different because they are on the brink of elimination against a Toronto team that has played with better effort, better execution and maybe most important, a heightened sense of urgency.

Take all that into account and you have the Raptors heading home for Game 5 with a chance to claim the first NBA title in franchise - and their country's - history. 

And while some will point to the absence of Kevin Durant (calf) for the series, that shouldn’t diminish what Toronto has been able to accomplish in this series. 

Again, Toronto hasn’t controlled this series because they have been at the top of their game. They have had more than their share of rough patches every game thus far. But they managed to do just enough to do what was necessary to win, whether it was knocking down a ton of shots or lock down defensively. With or without Durant in the series, the Raptors are playing like a team that refuses to go away without bringing the Larry O'Brien Trophy with them.  

What we’ll be watching: Durant to the rescue?

With their playoff lives on the line, the only real wrinkle Golden State can throw out there now is the return of Durant, who hasn’t played in about a month.

Because everything else Golden State has done up to this point hasn’t been enough to knock out a Toronto team that has shown itself to be more than just the Kawhi Leonard Show in winning back-to-back games on the Warriors' home floor with a chance to do what no team has ever done - bring an NBA title to Canada.


“We don’t care who gets the shine. Whoever’s night it is, that’s whose night it is.” - Kawhi Leonard after Raptors Game 4 win. 

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Celtics' Jaylen Brown participates in peaceful protest in Atlanta

File photo

Celtics' Jaylen Brown participates in peaceful protest in Atlanta

BOSTON -- The death of George Floyd in Minnesota after ex-police officer Derek Chauvin planted his knee firmly on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes, 46 seconds, has brought many throughout the country to protest the rising number of police brutality-related incidents. 

You can count Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown among them. 

Brown was in Atlanta on Saturday participating in a peaceful protest and explained why through his IG Live account why he made the 15-hour drive to be there. 

“Being a celebrity, being an NBA player doesn’t exclude me from those conversations, at all,” Brown said. “First and foremost I’m a black man and I am a member of this community and I grew up on this soil. So, I want to say that first and foremost.”

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Brown was among those in Atlanta walking the streets with signage, making a statement in an undeniably peaceful manner which was in contrast to what was happening in other major cities across America. 

“It’s a peaceful protest; we’re walking, that’s it,” he said. “Raising awareness to some of the injustices we’ve been seeing. It’s not OK. As a young person, you have to listen to our perspective; our voices need to be heard.

Brown added, “I’m 23 years old. I don’t know all the answers. But I feel like how everybody else is feeling, for sure.”

Another Larry Bird milestone to assert his place among the all-time greats

Another Larry Bird milestone to assert his place among the all-time greats

BOSTON -- The 1986 Boston Celtics are considered one of the greatest teams of all time, having run through the regular season with ease towards a dominant postseason that ended with the team hanging Banner 16.

But weeks before the franchise’s triumphant conclusion to the season, there was another historic milestone.

Larry Bird was named the league’s MVP 34 years ago this week for the third straight season, a feat that only two others - Bill Russell (1961-1963) and Wilt Chamberlain (1966-1968) - had ever done.

It’s significant because it serves as yet another reminder of how historically great Bird was; not only for the Boston Celtics but for the entire league.

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To carve out a spot in history with such an elusive group speaks to Bird’s greatness as a player who at the very least should be in the conversation as one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history. 

And what made that season even more special was that during the playoffs, the elite level at which Bird played during the regular season did not waiver or lessen up in the games that mattered the most. 

In the playoffs that year, he averaged 25.9 points (0.1 points less than his season average) while increasing his field goal shooting (51.7 percent in the playoffs, 49.6 in the regular season), assists (9.8, from 8.2) and steals (2.1, from 2.0).

And when the game was on the line, the only thing larger than Bird’s ability to come through in the clutch, was his confidence.

“There’s no doubt I’m in control of what I do out there,” Bird said in an interview in 1986. “I can score any number of points my team wants me to if they give me the ball in the right situations.”

And he did, over and over and over again before finally calling it quits on his Hall of Fame career in 1992. 

Throughout his time in Boston, Bird had a number of stretches of brilliance as a basketball player. 

But the three-year run in which he was the league’s best player, resulting in three consecutive league MVP awards, stands out in a career that was filled with standout moments.