Tonight at 9 pm EST, the Raptors are set to face off against the Warriors, marking the franchise’s first-ever NBA finals appearance.
The road to get there has been thrilling, with Kahwi’s Game 7 buzzer beater against the 76’ers (the only Game 7 buzzer beater in NBA history) propelling the team to the Eastern Conference finals.
Thus, prompting a genuine burst of feeling from the team’s stoic (seemingly emotionless) superstar. FYI: The shot even earned the approval of ‘Bron.
The side of Kawhi we never see. pic.twitter.com/DR2asMQUa0
— Chicharita (@Woahh_Jennifer) May 13, 2019
But looking further back, the pieces were long set in place for the 6 God’s team to make a title run. Sportsnet traces General Manager Masai Ujiri’s six (what a coincidence!) moves that brought the Raptors to the Finals, going all the way back to 2013. The first move?
Swindling Knicks owner James L. Dolan into trading Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, their 2016 first-round pick and two future second-round picks for Andrea Bargnani, the Raptor’s sub-par first pick of the 2006 draft.
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) May 30, 2019
Bargnani last signed on to play for Spain’s Saski Baskonia, so you can see how well that trade played out for the Knicks. In another devastating deal for the Knicks, Masai Ujiri was also GM of the Nuggets, whose first move was to unload Carmelo Anthony into MSG.
Masai Ujiri also made a number of moves that provoked criticism from the Raptor’s fan-base and the media.
This includes firing coach of the year Dwayne Casey– who had led the Raptors to a franchise-record number of wins– and trading the team’s most popular player DeMar Derozen for Kahwi, who had only been able to play nine games the previous season.
But look where they are now. In another history-making stat, the Raptors are the first team to make the NBA finals without a lottery pick. Adding to the hype, Kahwi has scored 561 points in the post-season so far.
With the Raptor’s title run, Drake, who has been dubbed the Raptor’s “Rowdy Uncle” for his unruly court-side behavior this post-season, has a chance to break the eponymous “Drake Curse” that has dogged him for years.
As author Thomas Mitchell notes, we’ll soon find out “God’s Plan.”