The 13 best moments of the Raptors’ rapturous title season

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The Raptors, improbably, are NBA champions. Relive the best moments from their title run.

The Toronto Raptors took an enormous risk shipping off their hometown favorite All-Star DeMar DeRozan in a deal for Kawhi Leonard, a player whose health status was murky and contract was set to expire. But the leap of faith paid off in the most magical way possible — a six-game series win over the back-to-back champion Golden State Warriors, all culminating in the franchise’s first championship.

The 2018-19 season was everything Toronto fans have been waiting to see. Here are the most memorable moments.

Danny Green double-blocked Jayson Tatum

What better way to cool the nerves about a giant blockbuster trade than to have the two guys you acquired swat the freaking crap out of the Celtics’ next heir to the throne?

Oct. 24: The play where Kawhi proved he has a set of eyes behind his cornrows

The flexibility, vision, anticipation, and everything else involved in diving the wrong way with your back to the ball was unbelievable. This is the strongest case for Leonard being a robot programmed to play the game of basketball to perfection.

Jan. 17: Pascal Siakam’s game-winner over the Suns

The league’s newest All-Star caliber, long-armed masterpiece announced his arrival with this off-balance layup just before time expired. More than anything, this shot established he was here for the big moments, too. It was right around this time when we realized how special Siakam and this team were.

Feb 11: Kawhi’s game-winner over the Nets

Leonard came up big when his number was called all year.

Feb. 13: When Siakam set his SEVENTH career-high of the year with 44 points

Everyone knew what to expect from Kawhi and Lowry, but Siakam became the player in casual fans’ “Who’s that guy? He’s good!” conversation, before they clicked over to Google to find out who the heck he was.

Siakam will undoubtedly be the Most Improved Player, and this is the moment we’ll remember as his breakout one.

Feb. 22: Kawhi and Kyle Lowry validate the DeMar DeRozan trade

With the clock ticking below 20 seconds to play in a game the Spurs were leading by one point, Lowry and Leonard, the man traded for DeRozan just months prior, trapped the former Raptors star and snatched the ball for a coast-to-coast dunk. That was the game.

Could the symbolism have been stronger?

March 1: Kawhi’s game-winner over the Blazers

Off-balance, floating to his right side on the baseline.

Reminds me of another moment a few months later.

May 5: Kawhi Game 4 dagger vs. Sixers

Toronto fans have seen a great regular season amount to absolutely nothing in the postseason too many times before. It looked like that was happening again when they fell behind, 2-1, to the 76ers in the second round.

But Kawhi was on a mission for this year to be different. His first clutch test against the Sixers passed with flying colors, as he sunk this game-clinching three.

May 12: Kawhi hits THE game-winner against the Sixers

This is the shot fans in Toronto wIll always remember. Leaning to the side, bouncing infinity times off the rim, with the crowd going completely silent. This championship doesn’t come without this shot.

May 19: The double overtime win vs. Milwaukee

The Raptors were mere seconds away from falling down 3-0 to the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals. Imagine how different the conversation would have been if that happened.

But then Leonard fought off injury to score 36 points and pull out the double overtime win.

May 25: The Raptors’ 26-3 run gave them a series lead

What. A. Comeback.

June 13: Shutting down Oracle Arena

There were so many heroes in the Game 6 clincher over the Warriors. Kyle Lowry, who dominated in the first half.

Fred VanVleet, who hit clutch 3 after clutch 3 in the fourth.

Pascal Siakam, who hit the biggest shot of them all.

What a season. What a team. Congratulations to the Toronto Raptors, the unlikely 2019 NBA champions.

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