What they’re saying about us: Raptors are giving Warriors their ‘greatest challenge yet’

As the Raptors get ready for Game 6 at Oracle Arena in the NBA Finals, fans from Toronto are doing quite possibly the most Canadian thing ever — apologizing.

Here’s what the U.S. media are saying about the Raptors ahead of Thursday’s game, where they will have a second chance at bringing home a championship.

Warriors against the wall

Despite superstars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson winning three championships since 2015 and building an NBA dynasty, columnist Scott Ostler called this attempted comeback against Toronto the Warriors’ “greatest challenge yet.”

“If the Warriors are going to stave off elimination, and maybe extinction, the Splash Brothers are going to have to party like it’s 2016,” he wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Ostler says that while their offence is still a force of nature, NBA defences have caught up to the historical shooting performances we’re used to seeing from the Splash Brothers.

Their three-point shot opportunities are increasingly fewer, and it’s up top the Raptors to continue that trend in Game 6 tonight.

“The Splash Brothers will get their shots in Game 6. The questions are, how many shots, and how many makes?”

Flowers for Durant

When Golden State All-Star Kevin Durant hit the ground in Game 5, ultimately tearing his Achilles tendon on Monday night, several news organizations raised eyebrows at Raptors fans’ reaction of cheers to his injury.

Curtis Rush, a former Star reporter, called it a “public humiliation” in The Washington Post ahead of Thursday’s game. “The black eye over bad fan behaviour was still being felt here” after the Raptors’ Game 5 loss Monday night, Rush wrote.

NBC Sports quoted Warriors forward DeMarcus Cousins, who called the act “trashy.”

“F- them, f- them,” Cousins said at Scotiabank Arena following the Warriors’ 106-105 win.

But since then, Raptors fans are trying to make amends. One anonymous fan is apologizing “on behalf of Canada,” sending Durant a floral display, as reported by NBC writer Jessica Kleinschmidt.

The arrangement also had a ribbon that read “Canada is sorry KD” placed across it, Kleinschmidt wrote.

“That’s not only classy, but this individual took responsibility for an entire fan base, and made sure Durant and others didn’t think low of them,” she said. “You can’t help but smile about the gesture.”

Apologizing with philanthropy

Another Raptors fan took the extra step of creating a GoFundMe page to support Durant and quell some criticism directed at the fanbase for cheering Monday night, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The page has since garnered more than $24,000 by at least 900 people in a single day, which it says will be donated to the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation. The foundation aims to “enrich the lives of at-risk youth from low-income backgrounds through educational, athletic and social programs,” according to its webpage.

“This isn’t cool. This isn’t right. This isn’t what I expect from fellow Canadians,” Hamzah Moin from Hamilton wrote on the GoFundMe page, appealing to fans coast-to-coast and outside Canada.

“I’d like to at least do my part in turning lemons into lemonade and showing the world how uncrappy we are,” he said. “We wanted to say sorry.”

Business Insider said “while it might not have stemmed from their proudest moment,” Moin’s effort is making the best of the bad situation.

Toronto won’t be intimidated

Don’t let the apologies from Raptors fans fool you — Toronto will not be intimidated in this game. That’s at least what a CBS Sports staff panel determined ahead of Game 6.

“Just because the Warriors are back home and found their form in Game 5 doesn’t mean they’ll cover the Warriors vs. Raptors spread on Thursday,” they said. “Toronto won’t be intimidated by playing at Oracle.”

ESPN said the same, saying Raptors fans are “just excited” to have two more cracks at winning the series.

Toronto “still has to be considered the strong favorite to find a way to close these Finals out,” sports reporter Tim Bontemps wrote, pointing to a flurry of injuries for Golden State.

But still, Botemps doesn’t think it’ll be easy, “the title won’t be handed to them.”

“Toronto knows it is facing the two-time defending champions, and injuries or not, the Warriors are going to need to be taken out of the series if they are going to lose,” he said.

Temur Durrani is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @temurdur

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