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Raptors' long-awaited NBA Finals debut solidifies team’s place in history

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TORONTO — Would you want it any other way?

Sure you’d take it. Over all those years the Toronto Raptors were either floundering, flailing or falling backwards, any trip to the NBA Finals would have been the equivalent of a winning lottery ticket found in a winter jacket — sure, maybe it wasn’t cash for life, but it was a lot better than nothing, more than you had.

And maybe the Portland Trail Blazers or Houston Rockets or any number of other possible opponents might even have given the Raptors a better chance at the big prize, a clearer path to seeing their reflection in the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

But playing the Golden State Warriors on your home court as they try to add another layer to their championship legacy has already assured the Raptors of one thing: Win or lose, they’re part of history.

Pull off the upset and you’re legends.

As one member of the Raptors organization put it as he gazed out at the NBA Finals media circus: "This is the ultimate test, the unsolvable problem. You have to figure out to how to stop Steph, Klay and Draymond."

Many have tried, now it’s up to Raptors head coach Nick Nurse and a team that has been put together on the fly, with more playoff games together — Game 1 will be No. 19 of this run — than they had games together in the regular season.

At stake is the life of a party that has been building as the Raptors’ playoff momentum has been growing. The series-clinching win over Milwaukee in Game 6 was an endorphin rush almost like no other in Toronto sports history, although anyone in the building for Jose Bautista’s bat flip home run in the 2015 MLB playoffs could relate. Everyone wants it to continue, Jurassic Park replicas are springing up across Southern Ontario.

Even Kawhi Leonard has taken note.

"Now I’m here for 41 games during the regular season and you get to live in a city, see guys........

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