NBA Finals 2019: What the Experts Say Ahead of Game 6 Toronto Raptors Vs Golden State Warriors, Predictions

The first farewell to Oracle Arena didn't go to plan and now the Golden State Warriors have the chance to right some wrongs as the NBA Finals return to Oakland, California.

Game 6 on Thursday night will be the last time the famous arena will host an NBA game before Golden State move to the Chase Center in San Francisco next season. It looked as though the venue had permanently closed its doors after the Warriors lost Game 3 and Game 4 on home court, but a 106-105 win in Game 5 means there will be one final goodbye in Oakland.

More importantly, it also means the Warriors are still alive and so are the NBA Finals. The win in Toronto, however, came at a cost as Kevin Durant suffered a serious Achilles injury in his first game from a month-long layoff. Golden State is a different team without him and the odds remained stacked against it, particularly as the Raptors have won 14 and drawn two of the 20 quarters of basketball played so far.

Here's what some prominent figures within the NBA media circle have had to say ahead of Game 6.

Brian Windhorst—ESPN

Toronto retains the upper hand but Windhorst suggests it has to close the series sooner rather than later.

"The Raptors had better win one of the next two games and then never say they're sorry —winning a championship means never saying you're sorry for how it happened. If the Raptors can't do that, the last three minutes of Game 5 will dog them until the end of their days."

Rohan Nadkarni—Sports Illustrated

Nadkarni believes that if the Warriors were to come back from 3-1 to win the series without Durant it would completely change the way they're perceived.

"Three years after being the cocky champions who were knocked off their pedestal, the Warriors are being challenged to an absurd degree," he wrote.

"Watching them meet that challenge head on—and ultimately conquer it—would be the most satisfying outcome to this series."

Kawhi Leonard put up 10 straight points for the @Raptors while the #SplashBrothers knocked down clutch 3 pointers to lead the @Warriors.... the best of the wild 4th in Game 5 of the 2019 #NBAFinals!

— NBA (@NBA) June 11, 2019

Dave Feschuk—The Toronto Star

Up by six points with just over three minutes left in Game 5, the Raptors failed to close the game and the series out. Nick Nurse's decision to call a timeout which killed his team's momentum has widely been blamed for it, but Feschuk believes the Raptors head coach will make no such errors in Game 6.

"If you've trusted Nurse to this point, you trust his instincts, his proven adaptability. You trust that a swing and a miss will be followed by solid contact soon enough. [...] The Raptors only have to go .500 from here to make sure the memory of those details wash away in the ecstatic blur of the celebration of the century."

Colin Ward-Henninger—CBS Sports

Durant's absence isn't the only factor that will motivate the Warriors on Thursday night, as the defending champions have the chance to give Oracle Arena and the fans a proper send-off.

"Because of the way these playoffs have gone, with injuries threatening to derail a seemingly untouchable dynasty, a Warriors win would be the ultimate reward for the fans who stuck with them throughout their down years, continuing to show up despite a glaring lack of success."

Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors
Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors attempts a shot against Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 10 in Toronto, Canada. Getty/Gregory Shamus

Ann Killion—San Francisco Chronicle

Killion also believes a final game at Oracle, which she expects to be the "loudest farewell to a building that you've likely ever heard", could help the Warriors keep the series alive.

"Do not doubt the Golden State Warriors," she wrote.

Not when they're wounded. Not when they're still alive. Not when they have a teammate to honor and a legacy to uphold. It's going to be a hell of a way to say goodbye."

Tim Bontemps—ESPN

The Raptors might have wasted the chance to kill the series off on home court, but Bontemps believes asking the Warriors to win the next two games is a step too far.

"Toronto is firmly the favorite once again. Durant's arrival back on the scene threw everything up in the air, and his performance before going down (11 points in 12 minutes) showed the world why," he said.

"But without Durant it's hard to see how Golden State can summon enough to pull off two more games, no matter how much championship DNA remains."