Toronto rocked Thursday night at Scotiabank Arena as the Raptors posted a convincing, 118-109 win over the Golden State Warriors during the first match-up of the NBA Finals.
The game, an international affair swirling in an atmosphere the NBA dreams of, lived up to the hype. The biggest storyline of the night was Kevin Durant’s hope-dashing injury. While DeMarcus Cousins was cleared to play, KD has been the driving force behind the Warriors’ last two championship runs.
Without him, all eyes were on Seth Curry and Kawhi Leonard. And the superstars shined while the Raptors’ bench and role players gave them the punch they needed for victory.
Dissecting the tactics
For Golden State, it was the two-time defending champions’ second loss in an NBA Finals game since 2016. Pascal Siakam had 32 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Kawhi Leonard added 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Marc Gasol chipped in with 20 points and seven boards and Fred VanVleet continued his strong playoff run with 15 points.
The Warriors’ Stephen Curry scored over 30 once again with 34 points. In doing so, he became the first player to reach 100 three-pointers executed in the finals. Klay Thompson had 21 points. With a triple-double, Draymond Green did what he could for the Warriors, but it was not enough.
“We’ve got to stay solid,” Siakam said when asked about going forward against the Warriors. It’s a great team we’re playing against,” “It’s gonna be tough. We’ve just got to be ourselves. They’re gonna make adjustments. We’ve got to be ready for that.”
The Raptors opened up the game striking from 3-Point Land going 5-14, while rust showed on the Warriors from the long lay-off and turning the ball over seven times. The Raptors didn’t look back as they took the lead at halftime 59-49.
The Warriors’ customary third-quarter burst was nowhere to be found as the Raptors clinched down tough, holding them off every time they attempted a spurt. The Warriors only outscored the Raptors by 3.
But, as the game drew to a close, Siakam made big play after big play. As the Raptors celebrated, the Warriors held their breath as Andre Iguodala limped after hitting a floater with a little over two minutes left.
Durant has carried the Warriors throughout their championship run in the half-court when shots were hard to come by. Golden State went 5-0 in its first five postseason games without its all-star forward. Faced with long and active defenders, the Warriors couldn’t overcome the Raptors’ defense.
Bottom line? This game underscored how valuable Durant is and any conversations about the Warriors being better without him should be put to bed.