The Golden State Warriors’ 2019 NBA Finals run and the movie Friday Night Lights have a lot in common.
Both having eerily sad moments, followed by stirring answers.
In the movie, star running back James “Boobie” Miles forced his way back from a torn ACL to try to help lead his Permian Panthers football team to a win against bitter rival Midland Lee. Instead Miles, on his second carry, re-injured his knee and was done for the rest of his career. The team rallied back strong in the final minutes, only to then fall short. The Panthers went on to capture the Texas 5A championship.
The Warriors are currently in their Friday Night Lights moment after Monday night’s win. They are a dominant team initially favored to win that found adversity throughout the final stretch and, even more so now in the Finals. Kevin Durant’s brief — and rushed — return gave Warriors fans excitement and hope, only to once again be dashed as soon as he returned.
His return and abrupt re-injury are to the Warriors what Miles’ return and re-injury were to Permian in the movie. For Durant, the hero that he was thought and expected to be, has officially fallen.
For 11 minutes, he re-ignited the Warriors’ offense and re-inspired the Bay Area. Then, with just under 10 minutes left in the second quarter, the gasp of Durant’s hot return quickly left Scotiabank Arena when he went down, clutching his Achilles. The crowd in Toronto cheered as the Warriors’ most dangerous threat was once again down, this time for the count.
In a do-or-die situation, the Warriors were forced to finally prove their mantra “Strength in Numbers.”
Steph Curry and Klay Thompson stepped up in Game 5, scoring a combined 57 points (Curry 31, Thomspon 26) while going a combined 12-for-27 from beyond the arc. DeMarcus Cousins was big defensively, and added 14 points and six rebounds while he continues to return from his quad injury.
The Warriors fought and held onto the lead throughout a majority of the rest of the game. However, Toronto took the lead in the final minutes after going on a 10-2 run, and the Warriors were down, but they were not out. They weren’t going down without a fight.
Both Curry and Thompson stepped up offensively, nailing a pair of threes in the final 90 seconds to tie the game at 103. Needing a stop in the final seconds after regaining the lead at 106-105, Draymond Green barely got a fingertip on Kyle Lowry’s shot at the buzzer to preserve the win and force a Game 6.
In the face of elimination, Curry, Thompson, and Draymond, all draft picks and the foundation of this current Warriors dynasty, all stepped up and played over 40 minutes in Game 5.
Including the seven-game 2016 NBA Finals loss to Cleveland, the Warriors haven’t faced this kind of adversity during their current dynasty run. From the struggles against Toronto since the beginning to Mark Stevens shoving Lowry in Game 4 to Durant’s heroic fall Monday night, the adversity looking to take down this Warriors dynasty is their biggest foe yet, even bigger than LeBron James.
Monday night’s win will go down as the most infamous and grittiest of any Finals win by the Warriors. When Toronto took the lead with 5:13 left, the Warriors could’ve given up and stopped fighting back – their hero Durant has fallen, their stars were gassed, the Raptors took all of their momentum in the fourth quarter.
But the Warriors showed the heart of a champion, and never put their head down in disappointment. Instead, they put their chin down and kept swinging, and held on when it counted the most.
The Warriors 2019 NBA Finals run is a growing story that will be told for generations to come – a team looking to establish their dynasty and win their third straight championship facing struggles on the court, injuries, off the court issues, and doubters.
The made-for-the-movies story is still in development with the working title fittingly as Strength in Believing. There are still two acts to go. Monday night’s Game 5 was the turning point. The happy ending could be coming soon.