TORONTO — Fans across Canada are gearing up for the Toronto Raptors to play in Game 6 of the NBA Finals tonight as the team takes a second shot at clinching the championship.
The Raptors lead the Golden State Warriors 3-2 in the best-of-seven series after losing by a single point on Monday.
If Toronto wins, the team will secure the title for the first time in franchise history.
The team is in Oakland, Calif., for the game, but city officials aren’t expecting that to dampen the party at Jurassic Park, the outdoor fanzone beside Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto.
The city will shut down several nearby streets in anticipation of an overflow crowd.
Fans rooting for Canada’s only NBA team elsewhere in the country also have a chance to watch the game among a mob of their peers.
Montreal will shut down two city blocks to allow people to cheer on the Raptors.
Regina, meanwhile, will once again show the game on a massive screen at the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ home stadium, and select Cineplex Odeon theatres will offer free screenings.
Some Raptors fans may feel the need to do penance during tonight’s game, after they cheered when Warriors star Kevin Durant went down on Monday, clutching his ankle.
What the fans didn’t know is that Durant had severed his Achilles tendon — a potentially career-altering injury. He has since undergone surgery, and is in for a long rehab and recovery.
Golden State’s Stephen Curry, who lived in Toronto when his father played for the Raptors 20 years ago, said that the cheers left him confused.
“It’s not my experience with the people of this city,” he said. “I just hope that ugliness doesn’t show itself again as we go forward in this series.”
One Toronto fan has since set up an online fundraiser for the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation, which helps at-risk youth.
“We’re sorry that some fans of Raptor Nation at the Scotiabank arena, Jurassic Park, and in some bars/restaurants showing the game, displayed an ugly side of fandom when they cheered on the injury of Kevin Durant,” says the fundraiser on GoFundMe.
By Tuesday night, it had raised more than $15,000.