OAKLAND (California) • The Golden State Warriors are set for an emotional NBA Finals Game 6 showdown against Toronto this morning (Singapore time).
The National Basketball Association champions, down 3-2 to the Raptors in the best-of-seven series, are fighting for their lives, playing for their injured star Kevin Durant and hoping for a victorious farewell to the arena where they became a dynasty.
The Warriors, seeking their third straight crown and fourth in five seasons, will take inspiration from Durant into their final game at Oakland's Oracle Arena before moving to a new US$1 billion (S$1.37 billion) home in San Francisco next term.
"To protect our home court, feed off our crowd's energy, play for K and try to keep our season alive," said Warriors guard Stephen Curry.
"We'll be ready."
Durant ruptured his right Achilles tendon in his first game back, in Monday's 106-105 road win, after missing a month with a right calf injury. The 30-year-old confirmed he underwent surgery on Wednesday.
Klay Thompson, Curry's fellow three-point sharpshooter, expects historic support from fans, especially for Durant, the Finals' Most Valuable Player in the Warriors' past two winning campaigns,.
"We're just thinking about enjoying this last show at Oracle," he said. "I expect our fans to be the loudest they've ever been, especially in the name of Kevin and bringing his type of spirit to the fight and the competitiveness.
History favours the Raptors. Only once in 34 attempts have a team rallied from 3-1 down to win the Finals - in 2016, when a LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers stunned the Warriors.
They will also have home advantage in Game 7 on Sunday.
The Warriors must shut down Kawhi Leonard and contain a balanced attack that produced six double-digit scorers in Game 5.
"Toronto are tough to guard because they have got a lot of passers and a lot of shooters and they put you in some difficult spots," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
"But everybody who came in was prepared to play and they were flying around and rotating. We were able to pull it out. So we know that's what it's going to take here as well."
Meanwhile, Toronto coach Nick Nurse is wary of the firepower of Curry and Thompson.
Curry scored 31 points with five-of-14 three-point shooting in Game 5 while Thompson had 26 points off a seven-of-13 effort from beyond the arc.
"We've got to figure out a way to control those two," he said.
"They're excellent at pushing off to create space. Their screens are long, wide and moving.
"So you got to work doubly, triply hard sometimes. You got to absorb contact."