The Warriors and Raptors are both coming off an emotional Game 5. Golden State lost Kevin Durant to a devastating ruptured Achilles, and the Raptors just missed clinching their first NBA championship in a 106-105 loss.
Game 6 on Thursday night should be just as intense as the Warriors continue to fight for another day in their final game ever at Oracle Arena before moving to a new home in San Francisco next year.
Meanwhile, the Raptors hope to make franchise history with a victory. Here are three keys to the game:
Warriors Need a Splash
Golden State does not stand a chance unless both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson play at the top of their game as they did in Game 5.
Thompson has especially risen to the occasion these Finals, averaging 25 points, 4.8 rebounds and three assists per game, which includes shooting 57.1 percent from 3-point range. The rest of the team combined has made just 33 percent of its threes. Thompson saved the Warriors from a Game 6 elimination in the 2016 Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder with 11 three-pointers. Can he do it again?
Curry has had to shoulder the scoring load these playoffs, including a Game 3 without Thompson or Durant in which he scored 47 in a losing effort. Then, he showed some fatigue from that performance in Game 4, shooting 2 of 9 from 3-point range. Curry cannot afford another performance like that, especially on the brink of elimination.
Kawhi’s Killer Instinct
Kawhi Leonard looked as if he was going to take care of business and end it all in Game 5.
While he did not have his best game, he still scored 12 of Toronto’s 14 final points of the game but missed his last two field goal attempts, which could have given the Raptors the victory. Leonard in the fourth is dangerous, but if he starts off hot and shows he has it early on in Game 6, it could spell doom for the Warriors.
Boogie the X-Factor
When Durant went down in Game 5, the Warriors received a spark off the bench from DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins, who scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds in 20 minutes of action. It was undoubtedly his best performance of the Finals and if Cousins can have that type of impact under the glass again, the Warriors may indeed be forcing a Game 7.
-By John Healy