Seven years ago, the idea that the Warriors and Raptors would face off for the NBA championship seemed downright laughable. But it was in May of 2012 that Golden State and Toronto went head-to-head in a game of chance that had a drastic impact on the Warriors' ongoing dynasty.
The last time the Warriors failed to make the playoffs was in 2012, when they finished the lockout-shortened season with a record of 23-43 -- tied with the Raptors for the seventh-worst record in the league. Golden State lost 17 of its final 20 games, and 10 of its final 11, in a tanking effort that would prove to be just barely enough.
The Warriors' first-round pick in the 2012 draft was top-seven protected, and would be sent to Utah if it had fallen outside the first seven selections. With Golden State and Toronto possessing identical 23-43 records, a coin toss was held to determine which team would be slotted seventh going into the lottery drawing, and which would be eighth.
The Warriors won the coin toss, and ultimately kept their first-round pick. The rest is history.
In the six-plus seasons since, the Warriors have qualified for the playoffs seven times, made five consecutive NBA Finals, won three championships, and currently sit four victories away from attaining their fourth -- and third in a row.
If that coin lands the other way, there's a strong chance Draymond Green -- who was acquired in that same 2012 draft -- never ends up in a Warriors uniform.
And without Green, there's likely no dynasty to speak of.
With the No. 7 overall selection in 2012, the Warriors took small forward Harrison Barnes out of UNC. They then used the No. 30 overall selection on center Festus Ezeli, and chose Green with the No. 35 overall selection in the second round.
The Warriors had significant needs at both the three and the five, with very little in the way of quality depth at the small forward and center positions. If the Warriors lost that coin toss, and subsequently lost the top-seven protected pick, it's unlikely they would have been in a position to use the two latter selections in the same manner that they did. Green was somewhat of a luxury selection, and one Golden State probably wouldn't have been able to afford without first benefitting from lady luck.
After playing a limited role in his first two seasons, Green assumed the injured David Lee's spot in the starting lineup, and he's never looked back. Green has started every game in which he's appeared for Golden State since the start of the 2014-15 season, amassing five All-Defensive, three All-Star and two All-NBA designations, and one Defensive Player of the Year award in that time.
There's no denying the impact Green has had on the Warriors' success, nor can you overstate his essentialness to the culture they've had in place since his arrival. Just days away from Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals, he will undoubtedly have to play a major role against Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors if Golden State is to secure its third straight championship.
It's bound to be a neck-and-neck series. A coin flip, you might say.
That worked out pretty well for the Warriors the last time.
They're plenty good, but it doesn't hurt to be lucky, too.