Welcome to the NBA Finals, Toronto Raptors. The defending champs have been waiting for you.
For the first time in franchise history, the Raptors are advancing to the NBA's championship round. Behind a brilliant performance from Kawhi Leonard, Toronto rallied in Game 6 to eliminate the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals. Out west, the Golden State Warriors handled their business, sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals.
The action starts Thursday on ABC and ESPN Radio! Keep it here for the latest matchups, schedules, news and updates throughout the Finals.
Why this might be a glimpse of Golden State's future
The eighth-seeded Clippers swiped two games at Oracle Arena and pushed the Durant-era Warriors to a distance only one other team had managed. Stephen Curry looked mortal. Durant went berserk and rescued the team. The same pattern repeated over the first three games of the Rockets series.
It seemed like the Warriors needed Durant to go berserk. That did not portend well for next season. Maybe we shouldn't pencil them in as no-brainer favorites in the Western Conference. Maybe it's time to lump them in with Houston, Utah, Oklahoma City, Denver, Portland and whoever wins the free-agency derby.
What can we learn from Toronto's regular-season sweep?
The Raptors are only the second team to sweep a regular-season series against the Warriors in the Steve Kerr era (the 2017-18 Pacers also did). Will that success carry over into a Finals showdown? Relive each of their regular-season matchups:
Nov. 29: Raptors 131, Warriors 128
Kawhi puts up 37 as Raptors withstand Warriors in OT
Kawhi Leonard is on point all night, scoring 37 points as the Raptors prevail in OT to beat the Warriors.
Dec. 12: Raptors 113, Warriors 93
Leonard-less Raptors dominate Warriors
Kyle Lowry drops 23 points and Serge Ibaka adds 20 as the Raptors get their first win at Golden State in 14 years.
The relationship that unleashed Steph's greatness
It's February, and Bob McKillop is about to complete his 30th season as the basketball coach at Davidson College. I have come to speak with him because Curry has said McKillop is a reason he did play Division I basketball and a reason he has been able to revolutionize the sport.
Although a stickler for discipline and a guardian of tradition, McKillop decided to let Curry shoot at Davidson with an abandon that he has never relinquished and that an emerging generation has taken as its birthright.
But he doesn't want to talk about Steph's shot. "He had the shot when he came here," McKillop says. "I had nothing to do with it." He talks instead about something that happened 45 years ago.
Detail: Kobe Bryant on NBA Finals stars
Kobe details Draymond's unselfishness on offense
Kobe Bryant explains why Draymond Green's unselfishness is so crucial to the Warriors' offense. Watch episodes of "Detail" exclusively on ESPN+.