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Dubs in-depth: An alternate universe where the Warriors lose in 5 games to the Raptors

The Athletic’s Anthony Slater looks at the rippledeffect of the Game 5 comeback.

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors went on a historic five-year run from 2015-19, winning three championships in five NBA Finals appearances.

Last year’s Finals loss to the Toronto Raptors resulted in the Dubs using the 2019-20 season as a reset after injuries and roster turnover made the chances of another championship run seem bleak.

The Athletic’s Anthony Slater wrote an interesting piece looking back at how things would have played out if the Warriors had lost Game 5 in Toronto, where they erased a six-point deficit late in the contest to come back and win 106-105 and force a Game 6.

Toronto led 103-97 with 2:32 on the clock, when Klay Thompson and Steph Curry combined to hit back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers, which put Golden State up 106-103. The Raptors would cut it to one, but Draymond Green made a great defensive play to get a hand on Kyle Lowry’s buzzer-beating attempt, sealing the victory for the Warriors.

Thompson was awesome in Game 6 before tearing his ACL late in the third quarter, which helped Toronto finish off the series.

Slater wrote about how the wild Game 5 had a ripple effect that is still being felt today:

“If Thompson is healthy entering last offseason, there would’ve remained more internal win-now pressure. Durant still would’ve left in July. But this hypothetical starting lineup was still under contract and available to the Warriors: Curry, Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney.”

He also points out that if Thompson doesn’t get hurt in the series, the Warriors wouldn’t have made the Duant-D’Angelo Russell swap that netted the franchise a top-three-protected 2021 pick and Andrew Wiggins from the Minnesota Timberwolves. While Wiggins’ contract is an albatross, the move allows the Dubs to add another high-salaried star if the right trade comes along.

No one wants to see any player get injured, but I do think this worked out best for the Warriors long-term plans. If the team loses Game 5 in Toronto and run it back minus Durant and some roster tweaks, I would put them a notch below the L.A. Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers, although not by as much as most people think. Both L.A. teams have their flaws and aren’t close to being juggernauts like the Dubs were during their run.

The Thompson injury enabled general manager Bob Myers to add assets, flexibility and two high first-round picks to reload for the 2020-21 NBA season with the Splash Brothers back healthy and ready to go.

How do you think the Warriors would have done this season if Thompson and Curry remained healthy with the core Slate mentions above?


Onto some more links:

We are expecting the Dubs to be contenders again in 2020-21. If that is going to be the case, Draymond Green needs to return to form. NBC Bay Area’s Logan Murdock looks into how Green performed this season and how he needs to bounce back next year.

Going into 2020-21 there a number of questions surrounding the Warriors. Patrick Murray of Forbes looks into five key factors looming for the Dubs going into next season.

With 17 games still left on their 2019-20 regular season schedule, the only thing we know for sure is that Golden State will have a high pick at the NBA Draft. Depending on how the ping pong balls fall, the Warriors could be selecting No. 1. If they do, the SF Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau says the team is eyeing Georgia Guard Anthony Edwards. (h/t KNBR)

Thompson was picked No. 11 in the 2011 NBA Draft. Looking back, there were a ton of misses ahead of him. NBC Bay Area’s Drew Shiller looks back at where Klay would go in a 2011 re-draft.