TORONTO — One of the most frantic moments of Game 5 of the NBA Finals came during a video review on Monday night. The clock stopped at Scotiabank Arena with 1:58 left in the fourth quarter when DeMarcus Cousins was called for goaltending. With the Warriors down three, Steph Curry put up a 25-footer at the top of the arc that didn’t fall. Cousins slammed it home, but officials thought the ball was above the rim and, even after a review that seemed to indicate otherwise, the call stood as goaltending.
During the break in the action, with fans in Toronto buzzing despite all the nothing happening, the floor of Scotiabank Arena was a flurry of activity. Dozens of people clad in matching light blue shirts appeared from nowhere to ring the court and keep watch. And fans who may have wanted to sneak away for a bathroom break during the stoppage knew better. Before the game, along with a red WE THE NORTH shirt, every fan in the lower part of the arena had a small placard on their seats.
“At the 2:00 mark of the 4th quarter onward, fans will not be permitted floor access,” the card read.
The reasons for this are obvious: If the Raptors won, there would be a trophy presentation to set up for and extra security and all kinds of things that had to happen, and quick. Unlike other regular and postseason games, the NBA controls the venue for NBA Finals games and manages everything happening inside. There are special rules for postgame should there be a trophy presentation, and a Raptors win in Toronto would have been special. Thousands of people were waiting outside in the rain hoping to celebrate. Thousands more were inside hoping they had a ticket to see history.
Everyone in Toronto was ready for a celebration that never came on Monday night, because the Golden State Warriors still had Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
That the Warriors were able to overcome all that came on Monday is a testament to just how transcendent this dynasty has been. They survived two gut-wrenching knockdowns in what was an emotional Game 5 that will forever alter the course of NBA history. They had an answer for Kevin Durant’s devastating Achilles injury in the second quarter that would have tanked other teams. Despite watching a teammate’s career altered forever by planting one right foot, they were poised to bring the series back to Oakland one last time with a narrow fourth quarter lead in the final minutes.