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NBA Finals

NBA Finals 2019: Sights and sounds from possibly the final game from Oracle Arena

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Warriors (NBA Getty Images)

The Toronto Raptors arrived in Oakland tied and are leaving one game away from their first NBA title. They won twice, grabbed a 3-1 series lead and all but silenced what may have been the final crowd for an NBA game inside Oracle Arena.

The Warrior fans in the lower bowl stood and cheered for almost the entire game. Early on, their energy fed their team who played stifling defence and held the Raptors to just 17 first-quarter points. The return of Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney seemed to revitalise both the crowd and the Warriors themselves as both tried to harness one last burst of their 2015 energy. It just never came.

Before tipoff, you could feel the fanbase wavering between nerves and confidence. In the parking lot, Robert Penny, Kalie Olenak and Kristian Vizcocho were among a large contingent of Warrior fans enjoying the moment. They were taking time to enjoy the memories they've made inside - and outside - their favorite arena.

GAME 4: Takeaways | Player reactions | Player grades

Penny was excited but admittedly tense. When asked if he was more nervous for Game 4 than he was for Wednesday's Game 3 he said yes, "…just because there's more at stake. I was excited for last game just because everyone knew it was going to be [Steph] Curry's time to shine. It just didn't go our way."

At the same time, both Penny and Vizcocho were enjoying what they could. Vizcocho reminisced about how many memories he made over the years in Oracle, recalling the 2001 All-Star Game and Vince Carter. When asked how many games he's attended at Oracle, he couldn't even recall. "Oh man, gotta be hundreds. I don't even know how many anymore."

Inside, Robert Luna was among the thousands of clearly nervous fans intently watching warmups. This was his second time going to a Warriors Finals game. His first was Game 5 in 2016 - the game Draymond Green missed due to suspension and the first of three consecutive losses that saw the Warriors lose their only series thus far in the Steve Kerr era.

Luna was closely watching Thompson, hoping to identify a sign that the five-time All-Star would be as close to 100 percent as possible. Once he seemed content that Thompson would be good to go, he took a moment to think about what Oracle has come to mean to him.

He recalled going to games as a child and sneaking down near the court to catch a better glimpse of superstars who, at that point, were almost always on the visiting team. He almost laughed recalling those memories as he ended with, "…you can't do that anymore."

Ultimately in Game 4, the Warriors just couldn't create one more great memory for the fans. They were up six after the first quarter, but it felt like a missed opportunity to be up by more. That advantage shrunk by halftime and, in the second half, the Raptors ran all over them and were up by a dozen entering the final quarter.

Oracle kept trying to catalyse a Warrior run but it never came. The crowd erupted one last time after Curry hit a three to cut the lead to eight with just under three minutes left, but Toronto immediately responded with a pair of free throws and Golden State never got that close again.

Some of the crowd started to pour out around the two-minute mark but, even as the game was well out of reach, the vast majority of Warrior fans stayed to pay their respects. They were painfully aware that this might be their final chance to ever see their team play on this side of the Bay again.

Before the game, Steve Kerr said his team's mindset was to, "make sure there's two more games here." The Warriors may still be able to achieve that goal but are facing odds they've only seen once before.

There still may be another game in Oracle. Golden State has already won a game in Toronto in this series. They also have intimate knowledge of how precarious 3-1 leads can be once they start to slip; but right now, all signs point to them having fallen short. The Toronto Raptors came into Oracle and took care of business, possibly putting a bitter end to an arena with a fantastic history.

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