‘Why not make our own history?’ — The Warriors' season, and the future of Oracle, is teetering on the brink

Kawhi Leonard buried Golden State with 17-point 3rd quarter

Karl Buscheck
June 07, 2019 - 10:42 pm

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The familiar WAAAARIORS chants began rolling through Oracle Arena even before tip-off.

The building, on what could be its final night, was buzzing.

Klay Thompson, improbably healed from a hamstring strain, was locked in.

Late in the second quarter, on the way to a 14-point first half, Thompson knocked down a fadeaway 14-footer. Then he did a not-safe-for-work celebration, ever so briefly, as he trotted down the court in transition before stomping into the key, exhorting the crowd.

Draymond Green, who finished a rebound shy of a triple double, was everywhere.

Vicious blocks. Indefatigable effort. With just under two minutes in the half, Green damn near took out Joe Lacob in the front row as he dove for a loose ball, sprawling on the floor.

Kawhi Leonard, the cold-blooded killer, made sure the night didn’t go to script, that the Warriors would fall to 3-1 in the NBA Finals, headed home unsure as to whether they’d ever play in Oracle again.

It’s a cold-ass world.

A dynasty built on third-quarter explosions, is left teetering on the brink after Kawhi, and the Raptors, delivered a third-quarter punch of their own.

“Oh, this sucks,” Green said, when asked what it feels like, in real time, as a third quarter, and in this case, perhaps, a season, spirals out of control.

“It sucks really bad,” Green continued. “You just try and do whatever you can to change it. Get a stop, get a bucket, get some momentum. Every time we did, they answered. So yeah, it sucked, a lot. But can't get it back now.”

Leonard dropped 17 on the Warriors in the stanza.

There’s no flapping Kawhi. He savaged the Warriors. Without a smile. Without a shout.

“I don't think you're ever going to rattle Kawhi," Green explained. "Not sure we used that word one time in our scouting report, we're going to rattle him. But you just try to make him take tough shots, and you live with the results.”

The basketball gods are cruel.

Stephen Curry, the man most responsible for this five-year Finals run who shifted the gravity of the court with his never before seen range, was 2-for-9 on triples.

The national audience will not be kind.

Curry, for perhaps the final time at 7000 Coliseum Way, shared the postgame podium with his Splash Brother, Thompson.

“It's not a good feeling right now,” Curry said, offering the most apparent line of the night. “Obviously…”

Inevitably, he was asked about the Warriors’ 3-1 experience, for better and worse.

“But like you said, we have been on both sides of it. And for us it's an opportunity for us to just flip this whole series on its head, and you got to do it one game at a time.”

Green struck the same note.

“We just got to take it one game at a time," Green said. "We got to win one game. We win one, then we'll build on that. But I've been on the wrong side of 3-1 before, so why not make our own history?”

The hope that Kevin Durant, once again relegated to the tunnel as he nurses his calf, will make a triumphant return, grows fainter by the day.

“As far as KD, there's been hope that he will come back the whole series,” Green said. “So that's not going to change now.”

“Obviously we hope to have him, but we'll see what happens. We don't make that final call, his — he don't really even make that final call. His body will tell him if he can get out there or not. And if he can, great; and if not, you still got to try to find a way to win the next game.”

Leonard, the Raptors stoic star, has the same goal. Win the next game, which comes Monday night at what promises to be a raucous Scotiabank Arena.

Leonard and his Raptors dismantled the Warriors on a night the hosts needed to win. Afterwards, he wouldn’t entertain a question about how his team has managed to best a historic dynasty in three out of four games.

“It's not over yet, so I can't say that we're better.”

Leonard capped his press conference, perhaps anyone’s last at Oracle, in a way only he can.

What would a title mean to the franchise? To Canada?

“I'm really not sure,” Leonard admitted. “I guess you really would have to ask somebody on the street or one of our fans.”

“I'm pretty sure it's a long time waiting. They're going to be excited. I mean, they're already excited just as us just being here for the first time. They're going crazy after the Eastern Conference Finals and — I don't know, there's no telling. You got to ask probably, like I said, a fan or somebody that's in Canada, been living in Canada for a while. But I know they're going to be super excited. I don't know. We'll see.”

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