If you aren’t a believer in the Toronto Raptors yet then you haven’t been paying attention. It became clear Friday night when the Raptors took a 3-1 series advantage that this is Toronto’s year.

The team is just one victory away from winning the franchise’s first-ever title and likely ending the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty in the process. Toronto will end the 2019 NBA Finals Monday night when they return home to Scotiabank Arena and complete an upset of the defending champions that few saw coming.

Kevin Durant’s calf injury has hovered over the entire series, raising two important questions: When will Durant return after getting hurt in the conference semifinals? Do the Warriors need Durant to successfully three-peat?

The answer to the first question is probably Game 5. After missing the first four games of the series, the reigning NBA Finals MVP is listed as questionable for the Warriors’ must-win game.

There is no debate regarding the second question. Golden State undoubtedly needs its best player in order to defeat Toronto. They’ve been completely outplayed through four games.

Even Durant’s likely return won’t be enough for the Warriors to erase the damage that’s been done.

The Raptors have outscored the Warriors in 13 of 16 quarters. All three of their victories have come by at least nine points. Toronto outscored Golden State 228-201 in two games at Oracle Arena. The Warriors’ only victory was a 109-104 nail-biter.

Kawhi Leonard has been the best player in the series and it hasn’t been particularly close. He leads Toronto with 30.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. Leonard has a 65.3 true shooting percentage. Stephen Curry, by comparison, is averaging 32.8 points per game with a 60.8 true shooting percentage.

Leonard hasn’t had the same defensive impact he did in the Eastern Conference Finals when he made life difficult for Giannis Antetokounmpo, though he’s still excelled on that end of the floor. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year has also made big shots down the stretch, particularly in Game 3 and Game 4, ending any notion that Golden State might mount a comeback.

Whether or not Durant plays Monday, it’s safe to say the Raptors will have the best player on the court.

Durant hasn’t played since May 8. He’s barely practiced during that time. Considering he didn’t take the court when the Warriors faced a 2-1 deficit just a few days ago, there’s little chance he’ll be close to 100 percent in Game 5.

It isn’t just that Leonard has carried his historic individual postseason into the finals. The rest of the Raptors have stepped up on the sport’s biggest stage.

It feels like a lifetime ago that Leonard was forced to hoist up 39 shots and carry Toronto in Game 7 of the second round.

Pascal Siakam has morphed into a more than viable No.2 scorer with 20.3 points per game this series, in addition to his 7.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. Either Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka has scored at least 17 points in every win over Golden State. Danny Green continues to be the top three-point shooter in NBA Finals history. Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet have decent numbers, but they’ve played even better than what the stat sheet might indicate.

All of them have combined to play championship-level defense, turning the greatest offense ever into an ordinary team. Golden State’s injuries have certainly played a role in that. Toronto has also managed to hound Curry and Klay Thompson while forcing the other Warriors to try and beat them.

Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Quinn Cook are a combined 10-40 from three-point range. DeMarcus Cousins has looked unplayable at times, committing 11 turnovers with seven field goals made after coming back from a quad injury that forced him to miss 45 days. Jonas Jerebko’s 24 minutes in the finals are probably 24 too many.

The 2019 NBA Finals feel a lot like the 2014 NBA Finals. After splitting the first two games on the road five years ago, the Miami Heat were swept in two games at home by Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs. While everyone was waiting for LeBron James and the back-to-back defending champions to turn things around, they were eliminated in Game 5 with a third consecutive defeat by double digits.

In hindsight, it was clear Miami was overmatched in their attempt to win a third straight title. If Golden State wasn’t going for a fourth championship in five years, they would be significant underdogs in Game 5.

Toronto is only a 1.5-point favorite, per OddsShark, after the news that Durant might play. 

Stop waiting for the Warriors of the past few years to show up. As was the case in 2014, Leonard is leading a team that has the recipe to defeat the star-studded champs, and they might just do so going away.

Game 5 Prediction: Toronto over Golden State, 112-102