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NBA Finals Raptors Warriors Basketball

Fans at Oracle Arena watch player introductions before Game 4 of the NBA Finals between the Warriors and Raptors, in Oakland, California. 

TORONTO — The NBA Finals are making one last trip to Oracle Arena.

For the Toronto Raptors, it’s a second shot at a first championship.

For the Golden State Warriors, it’ll be a night to play for a fallen teammate and the fans they’re leaving behind.

Game 6 is Thursday, and the stakes hardly could be higher.

“We owe our fans one more game in Oracle,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said.

There already have been so many during Golden State’s stretch of five straight trips to the NBA Finals, the second-longest run in NBA history. But few had all the drama and emotion that will fill the Oakland air Thursday.

Toronto will bring a 3-2 lead into the building and try again to win a title that seemed so close in Game 5. The Raptors had a six-point lead with less than 3 minutes remaining Monday, poised to put an end to a Golden era in the NBA. Thompson and Stephen Curry then rallied Golden State to a 106-105 victory, fueled by three straight 3-pointers.

The Raptors now have to do things a little bit better for a little bit longer.

“Come out and do the same thing. Just be mentally focused, try to limit our mistakes and be the aggressor,” Kawhi Leonard said. “Just play hard 48 minutes and see what happens.”

It’s the last game in the arena before the Warriors move to the new Chase Center in San Francisco, and the first one for Golden State with the knowledge that Kevin Durant won’t be back this season. The two-time defending champions began the series hoping he could return from a strained right calf, but he was lost in the second quarter of Game 5 with an Achilles tendon injury not long after his return.

Center Kevon Looney also went out again, so the Warriors are nowhere near full strength as they make their final stand.

They can’t worry about that now.

“It’s not like we’re the only team battling,” Golden State’s Draymond Green said. “They’re battling as well. Everybody is facing fatigue at this point. No one cares who is tired or if you’re facing a little fatigue. You’ve got to do what you came here to do anyway.”

The Warriors are trying to become the 12th team to come back from a 3-1 deficit and only the second in the NBA Finals, after the Cleveland Cavaliers did it against them in 2016. Being back home Thursday is a luxury but certainly no guarantee, not after Toronto won Games 3 and 4 at Oracle Arena to go with its victory there in the regular season.

So the Raptors won’t be rattled by having to go back there, even though they nearly avoided it.

“We came into this series expecting a long series and we put ourselves in a good position,” Toronto guard Fred VanVleet said.

A loss sends the Warriors into a summer they won’t be eager to face. Durant can become a free agent and will have to decide where he wants to play — whenever he can play. Thompson’s contract also expires, so these could be the final days of a dynasty.

But until then, the Warriors are showing they can win with skill or will. They’ve beaten teams for so long just because of their talent advantages, but getting this title would require much more than that.

“We made a lot of different statements over the course of these five years,” Curry said. “Win or lose, I don’t feel like we need to prove anything anymore. It’s just about can we get the job done or not.”

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