Toronto Raptors 2019 Basketball World Championship Ring
The 2018–19 Toronto Raptors season was the 24th season of the franchise in the National Basketball Association (NBA). During the off-season, the Raptors acquired small forward Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs after trading franchise star DeMar DeRozan. The season ended with the franchise's first NBA Finals appearance and first NBA championship, ending the city's and the country's 26-year Big Four championship drought.
Raptors victory celebration in Toronto on June 17, 2019On May 11, 2018, the Raptors fired Dwane Casey after the team was swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second consecutive time in the postseason. On June 14, 2018, the Raptors promoted assistant coach Nick Nurse as their head coach. The Raptors played their home games at newly renamed Scotiabank Arena. For the first time since 2008–09, DeMar DeRozan (who spent his first nine seasons in the NBA with the Raptors) didn't play for the Raptors as he was traded, along with Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round draft pick, to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Later, on February 7, 2019, during the trade deadline, the Memphis Grizzlies traded Marc Gasol to the Raptors for Jonas Valančiūnas, Delon Wright and C. J. Miles. The Raptors later signed Jeremy Lin. Despite parting with DeRozan and head coach Dwane Casey, they finished the regular season with a 58–24 record, one less win than their franchise best last season, second best in the league for the second consecutive season, and second seed in the Eastern Conference.In the playoffs, the Raptors defeated the Orlando Magic in five games in the first round. They defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in seven games in the semifinals to make their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2016 with Kawhi Leonard's buzzer beater over Joel Embiid in Game 7, which gave the Raptors a 92–90 series-clinching victory. The series was a rematch of the 2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals, where the Allen Iverson-led 76ers defeated the Vince Carter-led Raptors in seven games. The Raptors defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals 4–2, winning the last four games of the series after being down 0–2 and first in the conference finals since 1992–93 Chicago Bulls had defeated the 1992–93 New York Knicks. They won the Finals against the two-time defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, also the first NBA Finals series that was played outside the United States. They beat the Warriors 4–2, becoming the first team based in Canada to win the NBA title. The Raptors were the first Atlantic Division team since the 2007–08 Boston Celtics to win the championship, and the first Eastern Conference team since the 2015–16 Cleveland Cavaliers to win the championship. This would mark that every NBA division except for the Northwest Division has been represented with a championship in the 2010s. Prior to the Raptors victory in the 2018-19 NBA Finals, the Atlantic Division had the second longest title drought in the league. The Northwest Division will hold the record for having the longest championship drought of all divisions in the league with the 1978-79 Seattle Supersonics being the last champion.