On May 25th in 2019, the Toronto Raptors advanced to their first-ever NBA Finals with a 100-94 Game 6 victory in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Canadian franchise made history by overcoming adversity at key moments of not just this game but this series - coming back from a 15-point deficit in Game 6 in a series that they once trailed 2-0.
In doing so, they became the 21st team in NBA history to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 2-0 and the first since the 2018 Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Raptors were down by their largest margin of 15 with 2:18 minutes to go in the third period. That's when they embarked on a 26-3 run over the next 7:20 minutes, sparked by Kawhi Leonard, that defined that game and their road to their first-ever NBA Finals.
Leonard scored the first five points of that run and then sealed it with a posterising dunk over league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
"It was kind of a momentum capper," Kyle Lowry said. "We were on a run, and why not feed the big dog? Let the big dog eat."
Leonard finished the game with 27 points (game-high), 17 rebounds (game-high), seven assists, two steals, and two blocks in 41 minutes. Pascal Siakam (18 points) and Kyle Lowry (17 points, eight assists, five rebounds) were the other key contributors for the Raptors.
Although they won four straight in the series to clinch it, in all except a blowout Game 4, the Raptors were trailing by double digits, and in the case of Game 3, they needed two extra sessions to come out victorious.
With the Raptors advancing to the Finals, the 2019 championship series was the first in NBA history to be played outside the US.
Other notable events on May 25th
- In 1975, the Golden State Warriors won Game 4 of the NBA Finals 96-95 against the Washington Bullets, winning the third championship in franchise history and the first since the organisation moved to Oakland. It was then, just the third sweep in the NBA Finals. Forward Rick Barry was named Finals MVP.
- In 1993, Charles Barkley, who was acquired by the Phoenix Suns in June of 1992, was named the MVP of the NBA for the 1992-93 season. Leading the Suns to a league-best 62-20 record, he averaged 25.6 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 76 games.
- In 2002, Paul Pierce outscored the New Jersey Nets 19-12 in the fourth quarter to help the Boston Celtics erase a 21-point deficit and win Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
- In 2017, LeBron James passes Michael Jordan (5,987) for the top spot on the all-time playoff scoring list with a three from the left-wing in Game 5 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics.
Game-winning buzzer-beater on May 25th
Eddie Johnson vs. Utah Jazz in 1997
Notable playoff eliminations on May 25th
- In 2017, the Cleveland Cavaliers blew out the Conference's top-seeded Boston Celtics, 135-102 in Game 5. Thus, sealing their third straight appearance in the NBA Finals - becoming only the seventh team in NBA history to make the Finals three years in a row.
- In 2011, the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-96 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, sealing only the second Finals' appearance in franchise history.
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