Toronto Raptors Introduce Branded Hijabs

The Toronto Raptors have introduced a new line of team-branded hijabs in an effort to be more inclusive to fans of all cultures.

The team partnered with Nike to design the hijabs — head coverings worn by some Muslim women — and unveiled them on Twitter, saying the athletic apparel was “inspired by those brave enough to change the game.”

Inspired by those brave enough to change the game.

The Toronto Raptors Nike Pro Hijab is available now.#WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/D1fY1mWGhy

— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) September 13, 2019

The Raptors, which are owned by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, claimed to be the first team in the National Basketball Association to offer an athletic hijab, The Associated Press reported.

Jerry Ferguson, the company’s senior marketing director, told The A.P. that the idea was inspired by the Hijabi Ballers, a local organization that promotes Muslim women in sports.

“They really wanted to involve local Muslim female athletes,” Amreen Kadwa, the group’s founder said on Sunday. “There was a genuine partnership and interest to highlight this group, making it authentic to the Muslim community.”

Ms. Kadwa, who founded the group two years ago, said 10 to 20 women regularly show up to weekly gatherings.

“It’s been received positively among Muslim females and Raptors fans,” she said of the new apparel. “Toronto is a great multicultural city to introduce something like this.”

More than 400,000 Muslims live in the Toronto area, according to national data from 2011, the most recent available.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, praised the new hijabs.

“It sends a powerful message of inclusion to the Muslim community,” Ibrahim Hooper, the group’s national communications director, said. “I think the Raptors deserve to be congratulated for taking a step that other teams have yet to make.”

Norm O’Reilly, the director of the International Institute for Sport Business and Leadership at the University of Guelph near Toronto, said the marketing decision was a big step but not a surprising one.

He said it reminded him of when the National Football League started marketing clothing for women.

“When that initially happened, there was a lot of public press and the campaign was scrutinized, but now it’s common practice,” he said. “It takes a first step to push for acceptance in a gender, race or cultural issue, but it usually ends up working out in the end.”

He said that it was possible the organization would lose fans over the branded hijabs, but that the team must have determined the benefits outweighed the risk. Some critics on social media called hijabs a symbol of oppression.

Professor O’Reilly compared the move to the time Nike used Colin Kaepernick, the divisive quarterback who knelt during national anthems in protest of police brutality and social injustice, as the face of its marketing campaign.

“From a marketing perspective, those who don’t embrace change and humanity tend to not have things work out as well in the longer run,” he said. “It’s the natural progression. The N.B.A. is global and the Raptors have a global audience.”

Irving J. Rein, a professor of communications studies at Northwestern University, said that some people would find the branded hijabs empowering and others would find them offensive, but that it was hard to say how many people might stop watching the Raptors because of them.

“Athletes are really speaking out about controversial topics in ways that they’ve not spoken out before,” he said, citing Kaepernick and LeBron James. “We’re living in a space that we don’t understand very well and the ability to predict is very difficult.”

Jeremy Lin Is a Long Way (Emotionally) From Linsanity

ImageFans came out in droves to celebrate Jeremy Lin’s time with the Knicks in 2012.

CreditSuzy Allman for The New York Times

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When Marc Stein asked me to write this week’s newsletter, my first thought was “how fun!” My second thought was “there is absolutely nothing going on in the N.B.A. right now.” But if there is a discernible theme to this recent break in the action — after all, it’s been two entire weeks since one of last season’s All-Stars changed teams — it’s that players have been letting fans in on their emotions.

There was Anthony Davis, a new Laker, revealing on Sarah Spain’s terrific “That’s What She Said” podcast that he’s afraid of the dark — an affliction he blamed on too many scary movies as a kid.

There was Russell Westbrook, who feuded with some reporters in Oklahoma City, introducing himself to reporters in Houston by saying the thing fans should know about him is “that I’m a nice guy.”

And there was LeBron James, so excited to celebrate a big play in his son’s high school game that he lost a shoe running onto the court. Because it was LeBron, his enthusiasm managed to cause fierce debates among the internet’s great gatekeepers of decorum, but if you watch the video, it will be hard to see anything but a joyful father.

But by far the biggest emotional reveal of recent days came from Jeremy Lin, a newly minted N.B.A. champion, who gave a speech in Taiwan in which he discussed his difficult time finding a new team, his conflicting emotions about his role with the Toronto Raptors last season, and the potential end of his career.

“In English there’s a saying and it says once you hit rock bottom, the only way is up,” he said. “But rock bottom just seems to keep getting more and more rock bottom for me. So, free agency has been tough. Because I feel like in some ways the N.B.A.’s kind of given up on me.”

Some corners of the internet mocked Lin for thinking his is a sad story despite being a Harvard-educated N.B.A. champion with more than $65 million in career earnings. But the speech, which probably resonated deeply for many players who felt pushed out before they considered themselves done, brought up two fairly significant questions. Is Lin really done? And if he’s done, what is the takeaway of his unusual career?

The answer to the first question should be no. Lin is about to turn 31, and various injuries have added up to take away a great deal of his burst and his lateral quickness. But even in a reduced state, he’s still a capable backup point guard who was putting in solid veteran minutes for Atlanta last season before being waived, at his request, so he could sign with Toronto.

The Raptors did not find much use for him in the regular season or the playoffs — a topic he discussed in his speech in Taiwan, saying he’d dreaded the speaking tour because “I would have to talk about a championship that I don’t feel like I really earned.” But in a landscape in which a 42-year-old Vince Carter is expected to find a job and Big3 stars like Joe Johnson and Amar’e Stoudemire are options for N.B.A. teams, it’s hard to believe that Lin, who is far younger than any of those three, would not find a job if he was willing to accept a small role.

But if he did walk away, summing up his career in a way that future generations will understand will be nearly impossible. He was an undrafted player, released unceremoniously by multiple teams, who ended up on the cover of Sports Illustrated in consecutive weeks. His time as a star may have been brief, but it burned with an intensity few of us have ever seen.

Image

CreditRichard Perry/The New York Times

To those of us covering basketball for The New York Times, Linsanity involved seeing Jay Schreiber, the now-retired deputy editor of the section, at his absolute peak of frenetic energy. There was no story, positive or negative, that Jay did not want written if it involved Lin.

A search of The Times archive shows that between the day Lin signed with the Knicks (Dec. 27, 2011) and the day he left for Houston (July 17, 2012), the company’s various departments produced 399 articles that mentioned him in some way shape or form over the course of 202 days — an average of just under two a day.

My personal role involved trying to find angles beyond the day-to-day stuff with the Knicks. Some of the articles have been lost to the inconsistent archives of the Off the Dribble blog, but I interviewed the FedEx driver that had predicted Lin’s success when the guard was coming out of college. I compared Lin to another player (Isaiah Thomas) who was getting an unexpected shot, and I took a look at another former Warrior (Brandan Wright) who was finding success elsewhere.

I wrote about Lin’s handshake with Landry Fields, and I expressed concern about the long-term viability of a slight guard whose transformation into a star had come not by shooting but by getting to the basket — a dangerous proposition when you are giving up 40 or more pounds to those guarding you.

After leaving the Knicks, Lin, who has often struggled with durability, succeeded in a few stops but never found the same level of basketball stardom. His career isn’t one you’d expect to be described in a Hall of Fame speech, but it was one that dramatically exceeded any reasonable expectations. And that’s before you talk about his role off the court.

Much has been written about the cultural impact of Lin being the league’s first Asian-American star. In the warm afterglow of the Raptors’ championship, Alex Wong provided one of the finest examples by digging in on representation and why Lin was able to resonate for so many people.

If Lin’s recent speech is any indication, his off-court role may only grow. To articulate the emotions of a professional athlete in decline with so much vulnerability, and to ultimately turn it into a positive message, was no less impressive than the crossover he used to blast by Deron Williams and put himself on the N.B.A. map back in 2012. The only thing that would slow him down on this path is the very real possibility that his N.B.A. career isn’t quite over.

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Helicopters, Cap Spikes and the Decision: The N.B.A.’s Wildest Off-Seasons

Kawhi Leonard proved to be the biggest difference-maker that changed hands last off-season. Will he have that distinction again this year?CreditCreditFrank Gunn/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

June 29, 2019

So many marquee names. So much money for teams to spend. This Sunday, starting at 6 p.m. Eastern Time, the N.B.A. could witness one of the wildest off-seasons in league history.

The Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers are trying to lure Kawhi Leonard out of Canada after he just led the Toronto Raptors to the championship. Kevin Durant is considering the Knicks and the Nets, as well as the Clippers, along with a return to the Golden State Warriors.

Boston’s Kyrie Irving, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler and Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton join Leonard — plus the injured but still deeply coveted duo of Durant and Klay Thompson from the Warriors — as the headliners in a deep free-agent class. It’s a lot to track — especially with nine teams expected to have at least $30 million in salary-cap space and roughly 200 other free agents in a league that offers only 450 full-time jobs.

The forecast for considerable movement is promising, given the go-for-it sentiment that has infected numerous front offices. The league’s sudden lack of a clear-cut favorite for the first time since Golden State’s championship run began in 2015 — provided Leonard decides not to return to Toronto — invites daring and deal-making.

Just don’t forget that the bar is rather high for any summer to go down as an all-timer, thanks to the N.B.A.’s reputation for transactional bedlam. To refresh you on how competitive this category can be, here are five standout off-seasons that set the standard for chaos:

ImageShaquille O’Neal took a break from his duties for Team U.S.A. at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to hold a news conference announcing his signing with the Los Angeles Lakers.

CreditMichael Gagne/Agence France-Presse, via Getty Images

For all the anticipation that the July marketplace generates in the modern N.B.A., we have yet to see an off-season that can match 1996 for leaguewide madness.

The Knicks signed Allan Houston and traded for Larry Johnson. Michael Jordan re-signed with the Chicago Bulls on a one-year, $30.4 million contract — lavish compensation at the time. The Miami Heat handed out the league’s first-ever contract exceeding $100 million, to Alonzo Mourning, then saw their seven-year, $98 million contract with Juwan Howard voided by the league for violating salary cap rules, sending Howard back to Washington. In mid-August, after things had died down, Phoenix dealt Charles Barkley to Houston.

But all of that was the (deep) undercard to Shaquille O’Neal’s first foray into free agency. Jerry West, then the Los Angeles Lakers’ general manager, persuaded the representatives for Kobe Bryant, 17, to insist that their client would play abroad if he wasn’t allowed to join the Lakers. Then West also traded Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Bryant’s draft rights. That created nearly $5 million in extra salary-cap space.

On July 11, 1996, Charlotte and the Lakers finalized the Bryant trade. Seven days later, after West had created another $2 million-plus in cap space by trading Anthony Peeler and George Lynch to the Vancouver Grizzlies, O’Neal agreed to a seven-year, $120 million contract to leave Penny Hardaway and the Orlando Magic for the Lakers.

Shaq has maintained that an infamous Orlando Sentinel poll just two days before he committed to the Lakers sealed his decision to leave; 91.3 percent of more than 5,000 respondents had said he wasn’t worth a seven-year, $115 million deal. The Magic had gone 60-22 in the 1995-96 season, O’Neal’s last in Orlando. They have not won 60 games in a season since.

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CreditBarton Silverman/The New York Times

When the Golden State Warriors followed a 73-win season in 2016 by signing Kevin Durant, there was an outcry that the Warriors were ruining basketball by hoarding superstars.

Often forgotten is that a similar scenario nearly played out with the San Antonio Spurs in the summer of 2003 — except the howling was muted in an era that predated social media and the proliferation of sports TV debate shows.

The Spurs’ response to beating the Nets in the 2003 finals was to stage one of the most ornate free-agent recruiting efforts ever to try to sign the Nets’ franchise star, Jason Kidd. The Spurs put up Kidd at a fancy golf resort in San Antonio in a nod to his other favorite sport, leading to multiple sightings of news helicopters overhead.

The Nets, though, won Kidd over after he returned to New Jersey. Duncan, the All-Star big man, and Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich made a trip East to continue lobbying Kidd, but the future Hall of Fame point guard ultimately decided to stay with the team he had just led to back-to-back finals appearances.

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CreditDoug Benc/Getty Images

It was a line that not only defined an off-season but that will likely follow LeBron James well beyond retirement: “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach.”

He said it as part a widely panned television event conceived to give the best basketball player of his generation, and a native son of Akron, Ohio, an unparalleled platform to announce that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat. That James took advantage of the enormous interest in his decision to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club was largely lost as people wrote him off as egotistic and debated whether his plan, to join forces with Dwyane Wade and, later, Chris Bosh on a South Beach superteam, was an insult to the stars of the past who tried to beat their friends rather than join them.

It didn’t calm things down any that the league’s new-age Big Three, seemingly assembled by the players themselves as much as by Pat Riley, Miami’s team president, subsequently held a welcoming parade at American Airlines Arena. They came out in their uniforms, Bosh flexed and yelled, and James promised “not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven …” championships.

Significant money was doled out to Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and David Lee, but none of the other deals that summer could compare to Miami’s machinations.

The league’s Player Power era, with James as the foremost star, was officially underway. N.B.A. off-seasons would never be the same — as James showed us again in 2014 when he left South Beach to go back home to the Cavaliers.

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CreditEzra Shaw/Getty Images

Had the Warriors won the 2016 finals, chances are Durant never joins them. But, as any N.B.A. fan knows, they blew a 3-1 lead and lost to LeBron’s Cavaliers. Even so, Golden State also needed the good fortune of a mammoth cap spike. A huge increase in the league’s new television contract and the players’ union’s refusal to let the league infuse the money gradually hiked the salary cap by a whopping $24.1 million. That enabled the Warriors to sign a superstar they wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise — and it also led to a leaguewide spending spree that is rarely remembered fondly.

The Lakers committed $137 million to Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov. The Knicks gave $122 million to Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee. Several more questionable deals were signed, which made the major paydays to franchise stalwarts such as Mike Conley (five years, $153 million from Memphis), DeMar DeRozan (five years, $139 million from Toronto) and Bradley Beal (five years, $128 million from Washington) seem reasonable by comparison.

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CreditNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

It was a summer of dramatic change and reckless spending. Wade left the Heat for the Chicago Bulls, Duncan retired, and Derrick Rose, to much mockery, declared the Knicks to be a “superteam.” Durant’s decision to sign with the Warriors, which he made public in a July 4 article published via the Players Tribune, naturally overshadowed it all.

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CreditDan Hamilton/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

It should have been the most seismic move of the off-season, but speculation that LeBron James would join the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent had been rampant for so long — and the decision was made so quickly — that it was hard to feign surprise when the deal was announced on July 1.

Then the Lakers were upstaged twice.

On the day after James’s commitment to L.A., news broke that DeMarcus Cousins, the former All-Star center who was working his way back from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, was joining the Warriors on a one-year bargain contract worth just $5.3 million.

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CreditBen Margot/Associated Press

The Cousins signing, to many, presumably made the 2018-19 season a foregone conclusion.

But a different deal decided the season. Masai Ujiri, president of the Toronto Raptors, shocked the N.B.A. by trading away his franchise star, DeMar DeRozan, in a mid-July swap that netted Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. It seemed to be an enormous risk, with the Raptors coming off a 59-win season. Also both players Ujiri acquired were, effectively, rentals. On top of that, Leonard’s health was in doubt after he sat out nearly all of the 2017-18 season in San Antonio.

But Ujiri’s off-season dice rolls, which also included his decision to replace Coach Dwane Casey, led to Toronto’s first title. James, for the first since 2005, missed the playoffs entirely.

Jeremy Lin, ‘Reppin’ Asians With Everything I Have,’ Is Bigger Than an N.B.A. Title

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TORONTO — My 4-year-old and 7-year-old nephews regularly practice jump shots in their backyard, and they watch the N.B.A. attentively enough to know that the Toronto Raptors’ best player, Kawhi Leonard, wears the No. 2. In the fall, the older nephew will join the Chinese Canadian Youth Athletic Association here to play basketball. One day both will learn more about the 2018-19 Raptors championship team, and they will find out about Jeremy Lin, and they will ask me questions about him.

I look forward to that day.

Yes, Lin played just 27 minutes in the playoffs. Yes, only one of those minutes was in the finals. But hours after he and his teammates had finished dancing and drenching Oracle Arena’s visitors’ locker room with Champagne last Thursday, Lin posted a photo on Instagram that showed him posing with his parents and his brother.

The Larry O’Brien trophy was there, too.

“First Asian-American ever to be an NBA champ!! Promise Ill never stop reppin Asians with everything I have!” Lin wrote. It was a momentous occasion, but many people don’t see the importance of it, given how little Lin played. They’re missing the point.

Lin’s story has always been about more than his playing time or his performance on the court. It has been about Asian representation and visibility, rarely recognized or seen in organized basketball, especially at the N.B.A. level.

Posing with the Larry O’Brien trophy, and the glow of validation it signified, mattered. Every championship team has reserve players who are part of the group but don’t make an impact on the court. But not every reserve player carries with him the responsibility and burden of being the most prominent Asian-American basketball player in the world. If Lin’s story were only about basketball, it would have been over long ago.

“I used to run from it, because that’s all anybody ever wanted to label me,” Lin, who is of Taiwanese descent, told reporters after his Raptors debut in February. “It was like, ‘Oh, he’s Asian, he’s Asian, he’s Asian.’”

Even though Lin is one of the best basketball players in the world, he has not been shielded from the stereotypes that other Asian-Americans face in everyday life, like dealing with racial slurs and being forced to prove that they belong. Lin has said he often is not recognized by security guards at N.B.A. arenas.

They couldn’t miss him in May.

He arrived at the arena for every Raptors playoff game in apparel that celebrated Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. He wore clothes from Asian-American designers like Phillip Lim. One day, he put on a black T-shirt that said simply, “Phenomenally Asian.” Another outfit featured a T-shirt with the phrase “It’s an Honor Just to Be Asian,” which was popularized by the actress Sandra Oh.

Seeing Lin in that particular shirt meant something to me. To see him show pride in who he is on a national stage helps me (and many others) know that it’s O.K. to think of yourself as equal. To be proud of who you are. That feeling doesn’t always come easily when you’re part of a minority group. You often have a sense that glass ceilings exist, whether those created by others or the ones we set for ourselves because of our experiences of being treated differently from others.

Throughout my career, I’ve always felt that accomplishing the same things as my peers resulted in my getting only half the credit and recognition, partially because of who I am. When Lin arrived in Toronto, I was flooded with interview requests from radio hosts and fellow writers. It was an honor to speak about Lin’s career path, but later I became disappointed that those same publications and radio shows saw me only as someone who could bring value when it came to discussing this topic that was unfamiliar to them, when in fact I am more than capable of having a conversation solely about basketball.

It felt a lot like experiences Lin has described, of people wanting to talk to him only about being of Asian descent. As Lin, 30, has grown comfortable with his outsize influence and responsibility, we have watched him speak out about racial stereotypes and call out the comedian Chris Rock for making Asian jokes as the host of the Oscars in 2016.

There are Asians around the world who have been moved to pursue their own basketball careers, and to start basketball leagues, because of Lin, even with his Linsanity days likely forever behind him. Lin is more than basketball.

ImageLin’s impact on the court has been minimal in Toronto (a 7.0 point average in 23 regular-season games after a trade from Atlanta), but his importance has always been bigger than basketball.

CreditStacy Bengs/Associated Press

After the Raptors won Game 6 of the N.B.A. finals in Oakland, Calif., for the franchise’s first championship, the team flew to Las Vegas to keep the celebration going. As his teammates partied into the wee hours, Lin joined his friend Ryan Higa on a podcast and reflected on his journey this season.

“There were times in all honesty where I felt I had to tell myself I deserve a championship,” Lin told Higa. “As a competitor who plays and has played my whole life, I’m not used to not playing, so I was like: ‘This is tough. Do I really deserve it?’”

Lin said he was able to reconcile those feelings because he knew that no matter how many minutes he played, he was part of the day-to-day process of a team that came together and won a title, outlasting all 29 other teams in the league.

The celebration shifted to Toronto on Monday morning, as double-decker, open-air buses filled with players, coaches and family members, then departed the Raptors’ practice facility to start the championship parade. Seated with his family and close friends, Lin wore a throwback Raptors jersey that spelled the team’s name in Chinese characters.

On the parade route, he spotted a fan with a Jeremy Lin jersey. From high up on the bus, Lin asked the fan to toss the jersey and a marker. Lin promptly signed the jersey and threw a perfect pass back to the fan, now the owner of his own championship memorabilia.

These images, too, will live forever, of an Asian-American who went undrafted in 2010, turned into a worldwide sensation in 2012 and became an N.B.A. champion in 2019. The trophy will never note how many minutes he played. One day, another Asian-American player will be on this stage again. And it will be because Lin helped pave the way.

Alex Wong is a freelance journalist based in Toronto.

Masai Ujiri Could Be Charged in Altercation After Raptors’ Title Win, Authorities Say

Masai Ujiri, the president of basketball operations and general manager of the Toronto Raptors, may be charged with assault after an altercation with a California sheriff’s deputy late Thursday, shortly after his team won Game 6 of the N.B.A. finals, the authorities said on Friday.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said that it would pursue misdemeanor assault charges against Mr. Ujiri, one of the N.B.A.’s most celebrated front-office executives.

The incident is said to have occurred at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., moments after the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors to give Canada its first N.B.A. championship.

Mr. Ujiri made his way to the court to join the celebrating team, but an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy stopped him because he did not have the proper credentials, said Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

The deputy was not aware that Mr. Ujiri was a high-ranking team executive until after the altercation, Sergeant Kelly said.

The sheriff’s office said that Mr. Ujiri tried to push the deputy out of the way. After several shoves back and forth, Mr. Ujiri struck the deputy’s face, according to Sergeant Kelly.

At that point, several others pulled Mr. Ujiri away from the deputy and onto the court.

Journalists posted videos that caught the end of the incident, showing a man pleading with deputies to allow Mr. Ujiri to pass.

Mr. Ujiri was not arrested at the arena. “Instead of creating a more significant incident at this international postgame event, we decided to take the high road and cease and desist,” Sergeant Kelly said.

“What we’re now doing is compiling witness statements and video body cam evidence to submit to the D.A. next week for review,” he added. “It’s up to the D.A. to file charges for misdemeanor assault on a police officer.”

Greg Wiener, a 61-year-old Warriors fan and season ticket holder, told The Associated Press that he witnessed the encounter and did not see Mr. Ujiri strike the deputy in the face. Mr. Wiener said the deputy did not ask for credentials before putting his hand on Mr. Ujiri’s chest and pushing him, at which point Mr. Ujiri shoved back before bystanders intervened, The A.P. reported.

Sergeant Kelly said that security had been heightened because it was the Warriors’ last game at Oracle Arena before the team moves to San Francisco.

“We were told by the N.B.A. and security officials to strictly enforce the credential policy,” Sergeant Kelly said.

The Raptors’ path to the championship was largely orchestrated by Mr. Ujiri, who is Nigerian and one of the few black general managers in a league dominated by black players but largely controlled by white team owners and front-office executives. Mr. Ujiri won the N.B.A.’s executive of the year award in 2013 when he was with the Denver Nuggets.

“We are in contact with the Raptors and local authorities and in the process of gathering more information,” Michael Bass, an N.B.A. spokesman, said on Friday.

The Raptors could not be reached for comment. The Oakland Police Department said it was also investigating the matter.

Raptors vs. Warriors Score: Live Updates from Game 6

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Toronto’s Kyle Lowry has been hot early, scoring the Raptors’ first 11 points in Game 6.CreditKyle Terada/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

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Alright, we're at the end of one half of great championship ball. Raptors shoot their way to a 3 point lead at halftime, 60 – 57. Lowry with 21. Thompson with 18 for the Warriors. I'm @SopanDeb. See you all in a bit. Read our updates here:https://t.co/jsZHSOYGXV

— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) June 14, 2019

The Raptors were better, the Warriors were scrappier and Toronto went into halftime at Oracle up, 60-57.

The lead honestly felt like it should be much larger for the Raptors. They shot the ball well, they harassed Golden State’s shooters, and they forced 10 turnovers. Kyle Lowry, who scored Toronto’s first 11 points, is up to 21, Pascal Siakam has 13 and Serge Ibaka closed the first half on a tear, repeatedly getting to the basket against Golden State’s small lineup, and has 10 off the bench.

But somehow, some way, the Warriors are staying in the game. Klay Thompson has nearly matched Lowry with 18 points, picking up 8 from the free-throw line, Andre Iguodala has 11, showing off a nice array of dunks, and Draymond Green is being his usual versatile self with 4 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists.

The stars of the teams have been a bit quieter. Stephen Curry is being his usual disruptive self with his off-ball movement, but he’s scored just 9 points on 2 of 7 shooting. Kawhi Leonard has 9 points and 2 rebounds and picked up a costly third foul late in the quarter — one that gave Thompson three free points.

Golden State seems to have a choice: Go small to open up the offense (which lets Ibaka dominate inside), or go big to solidify its defense (leaving just one shooter on the court). Neither option is particularly appealing and Toronto, trying to close out a championship on the road, seems to be working to force an advantage no matter what the Warriors choose.

Scott Cacciola: I wrote about Kyle Lowry after he did a lot of little stuff to help the Raptors win Game 1. He did not exactly clutter the box score. Well, he has done everything for Toronto tonight: scoring, passing, leading, steadying. For all the change that the Raptors have undergone in recent seasons to shape themselves into bona fide contender, Lowry has been a constant. And he, more than anyone else in the franchise, with the possible exception of Masai Ujiri, the team’s president of basketball operations, has been through the most, including the many lows. He is doing all he can to try to end this thing tonight, on the highest of highs.

2nd Quarter: Toronto is missing Marc Gasol.

Stephen Curry came back into the game and Golden State went on an immediate 6-0 run to take a lead, 44-43.

The offensive push was all about Curry’s ability to move with and without the ball. He had defenders trailing him all over the court, helping set up two dunks: one by Kevon Looney, and one by Andre Iguodala on a feed from Draymond Green. Curry tossed in a little floater of his own while trying to draw a foul.

The incredible thing for the Raptors is how tight this game is despite Kawhi Leonard having just 4 points and Marc Gasol having just 1. All of their offense has been Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. Leonard can explode at any time, but so far he’s just 2 of 5 from the field and appears to be getting frustrated.

Scott Cacciola: Kawhi Leonard has had a quiet start, but the Raptors have gotten absolutely nothing from Marc Gasol, who’s missed all four of his field-goal attempts and just committed a turnover. It probably goes without saying that the Raptors can’t rely on Kyle Lowry to keep carrying them: Contributions from the likes of Gasol would be welcome.

2nd Quarter: Paging Stephen Curry …

The Warriors went to a big lineup, with Steph Curry out and DeMarcus Cousins and Kevon Looney both in, and while they started the second quarter well they started to fall behind thanks to Toronto’s outside shooting. With the Raptors leading, 43-38, Steve Kerr was forced to take a timeout.

Pascal Siakam hit another 3-pointer, making him 3 of 4 in the game after a stretch coming into the game in which he’d missed 12 straight, and Fred VanVleet is continuing his streak as a great bench scorer, with two 3-pointers in nine minutes of action.

For the Warriors to be able to score against Toronto’s terrific defense, they may not be able to have many stretches in which both Klay Thompson and Curry aren’t on the floor.

The Raptors led 8-0 and 11-2, but at the close of the first quarter their advantage had shrunk to 33-32 thanks to a 7-0 run by Golden State near the end of the period that included a smooth 3-point play by DeMarcus Cousins and a wide-open 3-pointer from Draymond Green.

Kyle Lowry is definitely the story of the game so far, with 15 points after going 4 for 4 from 3-point range, but Klay Thompson has 10, Stephen Curry — after a very quiet start to the game — has 7, and Cousins, who thus far has been making an impact since coming into the game in place of Kevon Looney.

There have already been a combined 22 3-pointers attempted in this game, with both teams trying to bury the other.

1st Quarter: Klay is in Game 6 mode.

Nick Nurse brought in Serge Ibaka and Steve Kerr countered with DeMarcus Cousins, with both teams going for some size shortly before a timeout. So far the Raptors are up 26-22, a lead that seems far too small considering how well they shot the ball early.

Since the 3-pointer explosion from Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam, the Golden State response has been a lot of Klay Thompson. He came into the game with a reputation for big Game 6s and he has 10 points in the first quarter. Stephen Curry, meanwhile, has yet to attempt a field goal, and Kawhi Leonard has just 2 points.

1st Quarter: Siakam is off to a better start this time.

Scott Cacciola: Pascal Siakam, a breakout star for Toronto in the playoffs, is coming off a quiet effort in his team’s Game 5 loss: 12 points on 6 of 15 shooting. Before tonight’s game, Coach Nick Nurse was asked about Siakam’s struggles. Nurse said he was not concerned.

“I think he’s proven all playoffs long, and even all season long, that he’s a prime-time player,” Nurse said. “The other night, if you want me to be totally candid, I wasn’t happy with his defensive effort. I thought he just could have done more. He could have been more active.”

Siakam definitely appears more active tonight, on both ends. He’s already got a couple of 3s to help the Raptors to their hot start.

1st Quarter: Andre Iguodala is aggressive early.

At the first timeout the Raptors are up 17-12, having cooled off at a least a little after Kyle Lowry got them off to such an incredible start.

Toronto is 5 of 7 from 3-point range — with two coming from Pascal Siakam who had been struggling — but Golden State is forcing its way to the basket to make up for some early 3s not falling.

Maybe the most notable part of the game for Golden State’s offense is Andre Iguodala looking aggressive and Stephen Curry, so far, being quiet beyond a few free throws.

Scott Cacciola: During the first timeout, they showed a tribute to Kevin Durant on the video board, featuring highlights of the injured star and audio clips from his teammates. A “K-D! K-D!” chant broke out in the crowd. Before the game, several teammates wore warm-up shirts bearing Durant’s name and number, 35.

1st Quarter: Is that really Kyle Lowry?

Kyle Lowry got off to an incredible start to the game, going on a personal 8-0 run with a layup and a pair of 3-pointers. Golden State finally got on the board when Kevon Looney drove to the basket for a dunk, but then Lowry connected again with another 3-pointer giving him 11 for the game. The veteran guard seems on a mission to get this game off to a huge start for Toronto.

Scott Cacciola: It may come as some surprise to viewers at home that the crowd was very loud before the game, this being the N.B.A. finals and all — in addition to it being final game at Oracle Arena. But Kyle Lowry: Crafty Veteran is absolutely taking the life out of this place. It is really quiet. So soon. So suddenly.

Kevon Looney, playing his way through a severe chest injury, started the game at center for Golden State and lost the tip to Toronto’s Marc Gasol. Game 6, the last N.B.A. game at Oracle, is officially underway.

Starting lineups

Warriors/Raptors

Stephen Curry/Kyle Lowry

Klay Thompson/Danny Green

Andre Iguodala/Kawhi Leonard

Draymond Green/Pascal Siakam

Kevon Looney/Marc Gasol

N.B.A. Finals Live Updates: Can the Raptors Close Out the Warriors?

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Game 6 is the final night of the season for Oracle Arena, but will it be the end of the Golden State Warriors’ season, too?CreditNathan Denette/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

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Who: The Golden State Warriors vs. the Toronto Raptors

What: Game 6 of the N.B.A. finals; Toronto leads the series, 3-2

Where: Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.

When: 9 p.m. Eastern Time tonight

How to watch

In the United States

TV — ABC; Streaming — WatchESPN

In Canada

Kevin Durant’s dramatic comeback only lasted 12 minutes, and it ended in a catastrophic injury, but the superstar forward’s incredible start to Game 5 helped propel the Golden State Warriors to a season-extending victory in Toronto.

Now the Oracle, the N.B.A.’s longest serving arena, will get one more night to shine. After an awkward Game 4 loss there for Golden State, when everyone knew it could be the last game in Oakland but couldn’t be sure, there will be no ambiguity tonight. Whether the Warriors win — pushing the series to a decisive Game 7 in Toronto on Sunday — or lose — ending their season without a championship — after tonight, the Warriors will play their home games at San Francisco’s Chase Center. The Oracle’s farewell party will come without Durant, who had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles’ tendon just yesterday.

For the Raptors, Game 6 is a second chance to clinch the team’s first title. Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry and the rest of Toronto’s terrific ensemble cast have, at times, looked dominant in these finals. With Golden State undermanned and emotionally drained, the Raptors could easily take advantage and clinch a championship on the road in an arena in which the Warriors of recent vintage had been nearly unbeatable.

But now the Warriors are beat up. Andre Iguodala is nursing various injuries — he describes most of them as part of being “old” — Stephen Curry is still dealing with a dislocated finger, Klay Thompson has a tender hamstring and Kevon Looney, who is expected to suit up, re-aggravated a cartilage injury in his chest that had the big man playing one-handed for much of Game 5.

But that group, along with the versatile Draymond Green, was able to hold off a late charge from Toronto in Game 5, and knowing this is the last game at Oracle could bring out the players’ best.

Nobody is hotter than Klay Thompson.

Why was Klay Thompson’s absence in Game 3 such a big deal? Because his shot is falling — even better than the five-time All-Star is accustomed to. Thompson is 20 of 35 from 3-point range in the finals, giving him an absurd percentage of 57.1 percent from downtown. By comparison, Stephen Curry, usually the better shooter of the two, is 20 of 56 (35.7 percent) and Toronto’s most prolific outside shooter, Kawhi Leonard, is 14 of 37 (37.8 percent).

Thompson, whose career mark from 3-point range is 41.9 percent, is known for outrageous hot streaks, and beyond the game missed because of a hamstring injury, this whole series has been a hot streak.

Kyle Lowry is quieting the critics.

Kyle Lowry did not have the best reputation when he got to Toronto, and even in the recent past he was questioned for things like conditioning and killer instinct. His maturity has shown up throughout this series. He was a model of restraint in Game 3 when he was shoved by Mark Stevens, a partial owner of the Warriors, and he helped quiet the crowd at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena following the injury to Kevin Durant in Game 5, making his displeasure with their cheering Durant’s misfortune known loud and clear.

He’s even found a way to stay aggressive in the last few games without getting too deep into foul trouble. He was whistled for five fouls in Game 1, and he fouled out of Game 2, but he’s had no more than four fouls in a game since as he does his best, with help from Fred VanVleet, to contain Stephen Curry.

Toronto needs consistency from Kawhi.

Kawhi Leonard’s box score in Game 5 looked fine, with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists, but he was playing well below his typical standards for much of the game, only to flip a switch and become unstoppable in the fourth quarter. What eventually did stop him — and may have cost the Raptors the game — was Coach Nick Nurse calling a timeout in the middle of Leonard’s one-man takeover.

Nurse explained later that if he hadn’t taken the timeout his team would have lost it, but Leonard lost his spark. On the game-sealing 3-pointer by Klay Thompson, it was Leonard who overcommitted on a pump fake, falling helplessly toward the sideline while Thompson nailed a wide-open shot.

Leonard is still averaging 29.8 points and 10.6 rebounds a game in these finals, and would be named most valuable player of the finals if the Raptors hold on to win. But on the road, Toronto will need his production to be more consistent than it was in Game 5.

Draymond Green has been clutch for the Warriors, even without scoring.

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson continue to take care of the bulk of Golden State’s scoring, with a combined average of 57.4 points a game in the finals, but Draymond Green does everything else. The power forward and small-ball center is leading his team with averages of 9.2 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 1.4 steals a game to go along with 12.8 points. He continues to be tentative with his shot, and has passed up multiple wide-open 3-point attempts in the series, but his passing and his defensive versatility make him the second-most important player on the court for Golden State behind Curry.

Adding to a career full of highlights in playoff games, he helped secure the win in Game 5 by both assisting on Thompson’s go-ahead 3-pointer and subsequently blocking Kyle Lowry’s attempted buzzer beater on the other end.

Hey, Raptors Fans, You Want Fries With Those 3-Pointers?

From an athletic point of view, the stakes on Thursday night are clear. It is Game 6 of the N.B.A. Finals, and the Toronto Raptors have their second chance in four days to clinch the franchise’s first title.

But there are greasier implications.

In what has become something of a ritual, McDonald’s locations across Ontario are preparing to give away tens of thousands of orders of French fries depending on how many 3-point shots Toronto makes.

At the start of the season, McDonald’s began a marketing campaign that promised medium-size orders of French fries at the fast-food franchise’s locations in Ontario each time the Raptors made at least 12 3-pointers in a game. Based on preseason estimates, it expected to distribute around 700,000 free orders over the course of the season.

The caloric count has been much higher. The Raptors have made more than 12 3-pointers in 54 games this season, including twice during the finals, and McDonald’s has given away more than two million orders of fries. (The fast-food chain would not reveal the cost of the promotion, but the average price of a medium-size order of McDonald’s french fries in Canada is $2.89, which would put the total cost of the giveaway around $5.8 million.) After the Raptors made 13 3-pointers in Game 1 of the finals, McDonald’s locations in Ontario gave out 80,000 orders of French fries in a single day.

Despite the unexpected size of the giveaway, McDonald’s considers the promotion a major success, said Chuck Coolen, the company’s head of marketing in eastern Canada. Customers have to download the McDonald’s mobile app to get the fries, and many end up buying drinks or sandwiches to go along with them.

“This is really cool in terms of what it’s doing for our brand,” said Mike Forman, who oversees four McDonald’s locations in Whitby, Ontario. “The Raptors right now are the biggest conversation in Canada. Financially, this is a slam dunk, if you pardon the pun.”

At a McDonald’s on Yonge Street in downtown Toronto, several extra employees join the evening shift on game nights to take orders and help out in the kitchen, said Fathema Yeda, who manages the restaurant.

“Everybody is prepared,” Ms. Yeda said. “They know it’s a game night, and we bring on the spirit.”

Last season, the Raptors made an average of 11.8 three-point shots per game, making 12 or more in 43 of their 82 regular-season games. They were then swept in the Eastern Conference semifinals by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. But the arrival of star players, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, has transformed the team from an underdog to one that is, somewhat surprisingly, a win away from the championship. And “Raptors fever” has gripped Canada.

McDonald’s has had major marketing campaigns tied to sports results before. Before the 1984 Olympics, the fast-food giant announced it would give away food items every time the United States won a medal. The only problem: the Soviet Union was boycotting the Games, eliminating the Americans’ major competition. The United States team won an astounding 174 medals (including 83 gold) that summer, and some McDonald’s franchises reportedly ran out of Big Macs.

On a much smaller scale, a bar in Miami this week promised customers a free shot every time the United States women’s soccer team scored a goal in its World Cup match against Thailand. The United States team won 13-0.

Still, sports promotions remain a “very efficient and powerful means of connecting with consumers” for fast-food companies, said Aaron Allen, the chief executive of Global Restaurant Consultants. “Generally, they’ve got such big pocket books that if something happens, they can weather it.”

Not every McDonald’s location in Ontario has been affected by Raptors fever. Dianna Hay, 46, manages a McDonald’s in the small Francophone town of Hearst in northern Ontario, and said she had not experienced a major surge of customers chasing free fries. Still, Ms. Hay said she planned to follow the game on television — as long as the Raptors were ahead.

“I switch between it and a couple of other shows,” she said. “It depends on whether they’re losing or winning. You don’t want to be disappointed.”

The Raptors Had a Title in Their Grasp. Now They Must Regroup.

TORONTO — They were so close. The Golden State Warriors’ dynasty was a moment away from being extinguished. Toronto’s Kyle Lowry even said after the game that the ball “felt great out of my hand.” But as the ball began its arc — and those standing inside Scotiabank Arena trained their eyes on the round object headed for the rim, wondering if the N.B.A. was about to be changed for good — the launch looked a bit off.

Draymond Green got a fingertip — just one, mind you — on Lowry’s left baseline jumper at the last second on Monday night, altering the shot just enough to deny the Toronto Raptors their first N.B.A. championship, at least for now. In a game of inches, to use the old cliché, Lowry was one inch off, allowing the Warriors, somehow, to live to fight another day.

But it’s never really just one play, as Raptors guard Danny Green said in the locker room after the game: “It shouldn’t come down to the last clip. Obviously, disappointing.”

With five minutes left in the game, the Raptors had the Warriors on the ropes, thanks once again to Kawhi Leonard, who had struggled most of the night. He pulled up for a 3 to give the Raptors the lead, 96-95. Stephen Curry tried to answer with his own step-back 3 on the other end. He missed. Leonard, smelling blood, scored again, this time near the rim. One 3-pointer and another pull-up midrange shot later by Leonard, and Toronto was up, 103-97, with 3 minutes 28 seconds left. (Lowry had a productive game, in spite of the missed jumper. He scored 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting with six assists.)

Some critics would point to Raptors Coach Nick Nurse’s calling not one, but two timeouts, 23 seconds later. The Raptors had the ball coming off a Warriors miss, a screaming crowd behind them and a championship within their grasp. Nurse said that he used the timeouts because he was going to lose them anyway and that he felt his players could use the extra minutes of rest. (In recent years, the league has moved to limit the number of timeouts coaches can use at the end of basketball games.) Leonard missed a shot — and the Warriors mounted a furious comeback, potentially helped by the extended break.

Asked about the timeouts, Leonard said, “If we would have won the game, we wouldn’t be talking about it.”

The Warriors looked gassed after an emotional contest in which Kevin Durant left the game in the first half because of an Achilles’ injury. (Multiple Warriors players criticized the fans inside the arena for appearing to cheer Durant’s injury in the moments after it occurred. DeMarcus Cousins called them “trash.” Curry said he was “very confused” by the reaction.)

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Raptors Coach Nick Nurse directed his players in Game 5 on Monday night.CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

Golden State lost Kevon Looney too, after he aggravated an injury that had initially looked like it would rule him out for the series. The Warriors looked like a team with nothing left. Instead, they played like a team with nothing to lose, riding three 3-pointers from the Splash Brothers (Curry and Klay Thompson) in the final minutes to eke out an improbable 106-105 win and send the series back to Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.

Nurse said it took “a lot of balls bouncing the wrong way in the last couple minutes for us to come out on the wrong side of it tonight.”

Of course, just this postseason, Nurse watched from the sideline when the Raptors got one of the bounces to go their way. At the end of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, against the Philadelphia 76ers, Leonard took a baseline jumper opposite from where Lowry did at the same stage of the game. In that instance, the ball bounced four times before falling through the basket. The basketball gods are friendlier at some times than at others.

Now, Toronto must regroup for Game 6 on Thursday at Golden State, but so far, that hasn’t been an issue for this team. The Raptors have won twice at Oracle in this series. They have shown a remarkable ability to stay poised after setbacks. This playoff run alone: The Raptors lost their first game in the opening round against the Orlando Magic at home but did not lose another the entire series. They almost lost Game 7 against Philadelphia at home in the second round, then lost the first two contests on the road against higher-seeded Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference finals. Toronto, again, won four straight.

Each time Toronto has been challenged, it has overcome.

“It’s not going to be easy, stay confident,” Leonard said, describing what he told teammates after Monday’s loss. “We know we can win, and that’s it.”

Toronto is relatively healthy, while Golden State must rely on less-talented players to make up for the holes left by the absence of Durant and potentially Looney again. Leonard had a poor shooting performance in Game 5: 9 of 24 from the field, while the Raptors shot only 25 percent from 3 as a team. Those statistics are likely to revert to the mean in the next game.

But this creates a special kind of pressure on the Raptors. Golden State is not the kind of team the Raptors want to leave the door open for, which is what Toronto did in Game 5. The Warriors, after all, came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2016 Western Conference finals. Even with the loss of Durant and Looney, they have two of the better shooters in league history, in addition to another bona fide All-Star in Draymond Green.

Toronto has two more chances. If, for some reason, the Raptors end up losing this series, that Lowry jumper may be replayed on loop. After all, they were right there.

N.B.A. Finals Live Updates: Warriors vs. Raptors Score

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Golden State’s Kevin Durant, left, is back for Game 5, but Toronto’s Marc Gasol has been making big plays.CreditNathan Denette/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

1st Quarter: The Raptors are getting it done on defense.

With an incredible 9-0 run, the Raptors were able to take a 21-19 lead and were up, 23-21 when Fred VanVleet fouled Stephen Curry when Curry was in the act of shooting a 3-pointer. Curry hit his first two attempts before a timeout was called, tying the score at 23-23, but Toronto appears to be taking advantage of a stretch in which Kevin Durant is out resting his calf.

The scoreless run for Golden State had included turnovers from Curry, Kevon Looney and Klay Thompson, with Marc Gasol proving particularly disruptive on the defensive end.

Scott Cacciola: Marc Gasol is having a huge first quarter for the Raptors. And what a coincidence: I wrote a story for today’s paper about how Memphis might be the Raptors’ greatest base of support outside of Canada, all because of Gasol and the successful years he spent with the Grizzlies. Fans in Memphis still adore him.

1st Quarter: Dance break?

Scott Cacciola: One of the interesting things about playoff games is that the timeouts seem almost endless, and we can thank the league’s television broadcast partner for that. At previous games, the Raptors have trotted out local rappers for miniature concerts — during timeouts! Which is crazy! But there you go. During the first timeout tonight, the team’s game operations crew unfurled an enormous flag that covered nearly the entire court. It read: “NOISE.” I don’t really think this crowd needs to be reminded to make noise, but the Raptors aren’t taking any chances.

Meanwhile, Warriors Coach Steve Kerr is leaving Klay Thompson in with two fouls. Kerr trusts him a great deal not to pick up a third.

1st Quarter: A different vibe with Durant on the floor.

It was a quick start for the Warriors’ offense, with Stephen Curry hitting a 3-pointer on the team’s first possession and Kevin Durant connecting twice from 3 in the first three minutes.

Things have clicked offensively, with Golden State hitting seven of its first nine shots, including all five attempts from 3-point range, but the Raptors have hardly wilted. After Klay Thompson fouled Marc Gasol with 7:11 left in the first, putting Gasol on the line for two shots, the Warriors were only leading 19-12.

Thus far Durant has not appeared limited in his movements, and his presence seems to have relaxed the rest of the team.

Tipoff

With Kevin Durant back, the Warriors went with their small starting lineup — the Hampton’s Five to some — with Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson starting alongside Durant.

Durant, as he had been doing before his injury, lined up for the tip, timed the first attempt poorly and then was outjumped by Toronto’s Marc Gasol for the ball. And with that, Game 5, a game that could decide the series, is underway.

Scott Cacciola: Pregame news conferences tend to be staid affairs, free of insight. Coaches don’t want to give anything away, and that seems especially true in the N.B.A. finals when the stakes are so high. But Raptors Coach Nike Nurse is an unconventional guy with an unconventional background and an unconventional approach, and he doesn’t mind sharing now and then.

Such was the case before the Raptors headed to Oakland for Games 3 and 4, when Nurse essentially said that he was hoping his team could return to Toronto with the series tied at two games apiece. Instead, the Raptors returned with a 3-1 series lead. So before tonight’s game, Nurse gave a lot of the credit to Kawhi Leonard — not necessarily for Leonard’s play on the court (though his play has been extraordinary) but for some choice words that Leonard shared with his teammates in the locker room before their trip to the west coast.

“I was like, ‘All we got to do is go get one,’” Nurse recalled. “And Kawhi said, ‘Expletive that, let’s go get them both.’”

Yes, Nurse actually said “expletive.” One can assume Leonard used a different word.

Starting lineups

Warriors/Raptors

Stephen Curry/Kyle Lowry

Klay Thompson/Danny Green

Kevin Durant/Kawhi Leonard

Andre Iguodala/Pascal Siakam

Draymond Green/Marc Gasol

In tonight’s Game 5 of the 2019 N.B.A. finals, the last, best shot of saving this Golden State Warriors season, and of continuing the team’s dynastic run, appears to rest on the (very recently) healed calf of Kevin Durant.

Expected to play for much of the day — though the team took its time confirming the news — Durant will make Golden State’s roster complete for the first time since May 8. A two-way force who, at this point in his career, can only truly be compared to LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard, Durant at his best could seemingly swing a series — even one in which his team is in a three-games-to-one hole.

The big question, however, is whether Durant will be at his best.

“You worry about the conditioning,” Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said before the game when asked how Durant would perform. “The skill obviously is undeniable.”

Before the injury, which came in the Warriors’ Game 5 win over the Houston Rockets in the second round of these playoffs, Durant was having his most prolific postseason, with an average of 34.2 points a game and a shooting line of 51.3 percent on field goals, 41.6 percent from 3-point range and 90.1 percent from the free-throw line. As if that weren’t enough, he was also co-anchoring the team’s defense alongside Draymond Green, regularly checking the best player on the opposing team.

Durant’s effectiveness could be a mixed bag. His offensive game is versatile enough that even if he’s compromised in speed or agility he could still find a way to thrive. The bigger question will be how he holds up on the defensive end, where he will presumably be asked to guard either Pascal Siakam or Leonard.

The news leaking out that Durant was likely to play moved the betting lines from Toronto being 1.5-point favorites to being 1-point underdogs, and Kerr seemed confident that Durant will not be limited.

“He’s been in similar situations with us where he’s had long layoffs — and he’s Kevin Durant,” Kerr said. “If we have him out there he’ll be a threat.”

Which is the Team Known For Shooting?

The Raptors have been excelling at each level as a team, shooting 45.1 percent from the field, 36.2 percent from 3-point range and 90.3 percent from the free-throw line, topping Golden State in each of those categories.

Golden State’s shooting is even worse than it seems at a glance. Outside of Klay Thompson, who is 13 of 22 from 3-point range, the Warriors’ shooting just 30.2 percent from long distance. They’ve even struggled some from the free-throw line, with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston combining to shoot 68 of 72 (94.4 percent) while the rest of the roster is 20 of 33 (60.6 percent).

Are We Sure Toronto is a One-Superstar Team?

It’s easy enough to label the Toronto Raptors as an ensemble supporting the team’s one superstar: Kawhi Leonard. The team has drawn comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki’s 2011 Dallas Mavericks and, occasionally, to the 2004 Detroit Pistons, a team that had many stars but no true superstar.

Give it a few years and we may be wondering how Pascal Siakam had yet to be labeled a superstar. A breakout player in his third season, Siakam is a two-way talent with a physique that seems created in a lab for defensive versatility. He averaged 16.9 points and 6.9 rebounds a game during the regular season with advanced statistics suggesting he had an outsize impact on both ends of the court. In the playoffs his averages are up to 19 points and 7.1 rebounds with no dropoff in his defensive metrics.

Just 25, Siakam got a late start to his basketball career, but his season of working as Leonard’s protégé has him on the verge of being acknowledged as a true star and not just one of Leonard’s worker bees.

What Happened to Golden State’s Defense?

Much has been made about Toronto’s various methods of limiting Stephen Curry on offense, but the other end of the court has been just as problematic for Golden State. In the finals, the Warriors have given up an average of 115.1 points per 100 possessions, which is their worst mark in any of the five finals appearances under Kerr. In Game 3 they allowed 123 points at home, the fourth time this postseason that they have allowed 120 or more.

While in line with how the team played for much of the 2018-19 season, Golden State’s defense in the playoffs this year is quite a departure from the dynasty’s roots: In 2015, Golden State held its opponents below 100 points in 17 of 21 games with an average of just 98.7 points allowed per 100 possessions.

A Second Finals M.V.P. for Kawhi?

Leonard was the last player to be named the most valuable player of a finals before the run of four straight matchups between the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers began. Should Toronto hang on to win this series, he would likely win his second, especially with averages of 30.8 points and 10.3 rebounds a game in the finals.

Leonard would be the 11th player to win multiple finals M.V.P.s and would join LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players to win one for two different teams.

With the retirement announcement of Leonard’s former teammate Tony Parker on Monday, the only active members of the finals M.V.P. club are Andre Iguodala, James, Durant and Leonard. And, considering the precarious spot Durant would have to carry his team back from, and Leonard’s impact in the series so far, that list does not appear likely to grow no matter which team wins.