NBA: Ranking the 10 most important games from the last 10 years

NBA former Heat forward LeBron James (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
NBA former Heat forward LeBron James (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images) /
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7. 2019 NBA Finals – Game 5: Warriors vs. Raptors

This game is most memorable for what was lost, rather than what was won.

The Warriors won the game, but when Kevin Durant went down with a ruptured Achilles in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals, it altered the legacy of everyone on that floor.

With Durant missing the rest of the series and Klay Thompson leaving Game 6 with a torn ACL, the Warriors didn’t have much of a chance to beat the Raptors – a team they likely would have defeated if they had a healthy roster going in.

The Raptors, of course, won the 2019 NBA Finals and in the process erased the painful “LeBronto” years where they couldn’t get out of their own way. And the title catapulted Kawhi Leonard into the conversation for the best player in the NBA – a conversation he never would have entered if not for that championship.

But the legacy affected the most was that of the Warriors team as a whole. Without those injuries, they likely 3-peat and put themselves up with the very few teams in NBA history who have been able to pull it off. A series win puts them with the 90’s Bulls, early 2000’s Lakers, Bill Russell’s Celtics of the ’60s, and the Minneapolis Lakers of the 1950s.

From an individual standpoint, Kevin Durant lost the opportunity to make his most convincing case for the belt of the best player in the NBA. With LeBron James not in the playoffs, a 3-peat would have placed Durant at the top of nearly everyone’s list.

Durant lost the championship, the title of the best player in the world, and a year of his prime in 2020. 2019 will always be a giant “what if?” in Durant’s career when it’s all said and done, but it won’t be the biggest (more foreshadowing).