Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) jumps with the ball as Golden State Warriors centre DeMarcus Cousins (0) and Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) defend during first half basketball action in Game 4 of the NBA Finals in Oakland, California on Friday, June 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Raptors remain all-business on eve of what could be historic victory

The Raptors can clinch the title with a victory over two-time defending champion Golden State

The Toronto Raptors are one win away from their first NBA Championship in franchise history. One win away from upending two-time defending champs Golden State. One win from bringing the Larry O’Brien Trophy to Canada for the first time, and igniting what’s sure to be mass pandemonium among Raptors fans from coast to coast.

Pressure? Nah. Not according to Kyle Lowry.

The veteran point guard says he’s living the dream. Pressure, he said, is his mom Marie Holloway waking up at the crack of dawn and travelling 90 minutes to work on Philadelphia’s public transit to feed her kids.

“Getting up at five in the morning and going to work and making me cereal, having a bowl of cereal sitting in the refrigerator with some milk and being able to provide for me and my brother and my family … that’s pressure. That’s pressure to me,” Lowry said Sunday.

“Just being willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that your kid will see better than what you’ve ever seen. People like that are heroes to me — just going to work and grinding and doing whatever it takes to provide for your family.”

The Raptors can clinch the title with a victory over two-time defending champion Golden State on Monday at Scotiabank Arena. It would cap an historic post-season run that has captured Canada’s collective imagination and whipped Raptors fans into a frenzy.

READ MORE: Raptors a win away from NBA title after beating Warriors 105-92

But don’t tell the players that.

“We didn’t do nothing yet. We haven’t done anything,” said Lowry, who’s making his Finals debut in his 13th season in the league. ”We still got to get one more win. It’s the first to four.”

The Raptors have drawn comparisons to the 2004 Detroit Pistons, who, armed with a rock-solid defence, upset a Los Angeles Lakers team loaded with stars to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

But Toronto has talked about the NBA title as being its ultimate goal since Day 1 of this season, after president Masai Ujiri acquired enigmatic star Kawhi Leonard for DeMar DeRozan in the blockbuster trade of the summer, then added Marc Gasol at February’s trade deadline.

Over the course of the season, they’ve developed a collective personality of quiet calm in the midst of the storm. After stealing two wins on Golden State’s home court, it was tough to tell the newcomers from a stacked Warriors team playing in its fifth straight Finals.

Leonard has been the team’s Zen master after missing all but nine games last season with San Antonio. In the moments the Raptors have trailed this post-season, the 27-year-old has settled them down. He’s reminded them to enjoy the moment.

“It’s why you’re here,” he said Saturday. ”You never know when those times will come when you’re not going to be able to play or you get injured.”

He’s perfected his unique unflappability, he said, over his years of playing.

“Just learning from past experience, past games that I lost, games that I won, seeing what I felt like or what I was thinking at those specific times and just bringing it back to current-day reality, the moment that I’m in,” he said.

The 33-year-old Lowry echoed Leonard, saying his ability to live in the moment has improved over the years.

“Every day isn’t given to you,” Lowry said. ”You just should be happy you wake up every day. People ask me how I’m doing and I say, ‘I’m great. I’m alive.’ That’s kind of the staying-in-the-moment thing that I’ve always lived by.

“We’ve just kind of made that the forefront of our team. I’m here playing basketball for a living. I’m healthy, my kids are healthy. Life’s pretty good.”

A reporter repeated Lowry’s philosophical words to Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Sunday. The coach was equally thoughtful when he talked about appreciating the moment.

“We play basketball for a living or coach for a living. We’re among the luckiest people on earth,” Kerr said. ”It’s all perspective. We are incredibly lucky to live the lives that we do and to be here competing for an NBA championship. When you talk about pressure and daunting tasks and all that, just look around the world. We’re doing all right and we’re lucky and we know how lucky we are.”

The Raptors were back home Sunday after winning twice at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. They’ve won seven of their last eight post-season games.

Hundred of fans made the trip to Oakland for Games 3 and 4 serenading the team with “O Canada” as they walked off the floor. Back home, Raptors fans started staking their spots in the lineup to get into Jurassic Park on Saturday — two days before Game 5 tips off.

VIDEO: Raptors fans prepare for Monday’s potentially championship-clinching Game 5

Random “Let’s go Raptors!” chants have broken out at gatherings across the country, including the Canadian Open golf tournament in Hamilton. It’s happened in bars, in schoolyards, and on flights landing in Toronto.

Nick Nurse was pleasantly surprised to hear that.

“I always learn this stuff when I come to press conferences,” the rookie head coach said.

The residents in his condo building, he said, had posted a picture in his elevator of a viewing party they’d held for Game 4, “so I wouldn’t miss that.”

Can the team embrace the fan frenzy?

“I think we have been embracing it this whole time,” Leonard said. ”Just enjoying the support and the energy that they’re bringing to the team.”

A young boy who was reporting for CBC Kids prompted an emotional response from Lowry when he asked how it felt to be an icon for kids across Canada.

“That’s a crazy question. I ain’t never been asked that one. I don’t know,” Lowry said. “I will put it this way: I was once a kid and I was once in your shoes. To be able to know kids one day will want to be like me, I hold myself to a super high standard.

“I want kids and you to see a man that’s really professional, really about his business, but at the same time he’s still fun and loving and everything else.”

If Golden State wins Monday, the series would go back to Oakland for Game 6 on Thursday.

Lori Ewing , The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nearly 20 individuals accessed LRCA’s cold weather shelter during 2020 snowstorm

Most individuals accessed the shelter for food, showers, laundry, and to warm up

Shoot the Moon pub passes public hearing stage

Rod Alsop and Jon Ludtke’s proposed pub is one step closer after a packed public hearing

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP visits Wet’suwet’en camps, calls for Coastal GasLink pipeline to be ‘revisited’

Paul Manly met with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and the RCMP to talk about the ongoing situation

BREAKING: LSS evacuated after reports of ‘gas smell’

Students were evacuated to Frank Jameson Community Centre, but have since returned to class

Successful end to search for kayakers along the Chemainus River

Father and son located tired and cold, but otherwise OK

VIDEO: Music stars pay tribute to Kobe Bryant at Grammys award show

Music artists including Billy Ray Cyrus, Rick Ross and Kirk Franklin paid tribute to Bryant

Pregnant B.C. woman stuck in Wuhan, the epicentre of coronavirus outbreak

Woman is due to give birth in Wuhan, China unless she can get out

Victoria-area wolf tranquilized after being seen running around neighbourhood

Officials say wolf unharmed during its ‘arrest’

Ontario confirms second presumptive coronavirus case in wife of first patient

Both arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Most Read