Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#523 Golden State Warriors 215 vs.
#524 Toronto Raptors -2
Sunday, June 2, 2019 at 8:07pm EDT
Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
Written by Chris Altruda

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#523 Golden State
#524 Toronto
69-30
71-30
42-55-2
49-50-2
49-50
52-47-2
117
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106

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Golden State Warriors at Toronto Raptors

When and Where: Sunday, June 2, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ont., 8:07 p.m. EDT.

Toronto leads series 1-0

UPDATES 6/2 @ 10:30 a.m. CDT with full picks

The Toronto Raptors may have won Game 1 of the NBA Finals, but they also know it will mean nothing without protecting home court again Sunday night against the Golden State Warriors in Game 2.

Bookmark this page because there will be updates Saturday and Sunday regarding player and team prop picks as well as quarter and half over/unders courtesy of PointsBet.com!

Warriors look for answers to correct transition defense woes

Twenty-four.

That is the number that stood out to Warriors coach Steve Kerr to start his two days of stewing from Thursday night’s Game 1 loss. Twenty-four was the number of points Golden State allowed in transition, the most by any opponent this postseason.

Some of it could be attributed to the lengthy layoff between sweeping Portland in the conference finals and Thursday night as Golden State struggled at times to get up to game speed. Some of it, though, involves giving credit where credit is due, and that was the Raptors pushing the ball at every opportunity as Pascal Siakam often found himself with lanes to the basket or space to shoot.

“The biggest thing for me was our transition defense was just awful and that’s the game,” Kerr said after Game 1. “That’s the No. 1 priority when you play Toronto. You have to take care of their transition and we gave up 24 fast-break points, we turned it over 17 times. So that’s the game, really.”

“They definitely have a lot of speed. I think we definitely come across some teams with a lot of speed. But we have seen it now,” echoed Draymond Green, who recorded his third consecutive triple-double, in Friday’s media session. “All transition defense is is effort and communication. So it’s on us to make sure that we make that effort in getting back and getting our defense set and communicating — who has ball, who is picking up shooters.

“But they’re very fast. A little faster than it even looks on tape, that’s for sure.”

Kerr has again ruled out forward Kevin Durant, who has made progress in rehabbing from a strained calf suffered in Game 5 of the conference semifinals versus Houston. Kerr made the distinction about it being a muscle injury as the tipping point compared to a sore knee or ankle, noting, “you re-injure the calf, then that’s it and then he’s done for the series.”

While Durant is one of the most efficient scorers in the game, his absence is more notable on the defensive end because of his length — in addition to the 24 points given up in transition, Golden State was outscored 40-32 in the paint. Still, Stephen Curry noted Durant is an active participant in areas beyond on-court play as he rehabs.

“He’s chiming in when he sees something in the locker room, pointing out some X’s and O’s type of stuff, but more so when you see him putting time in trying to get healthy, trying to get back out on the floor as soon as possible, that’s motivation for sure,” Curry noted Saturday.

“We’re all in this together. We’ve said it for the entire year. He’s exemplifying that with his presence in the locker room here, and again when he gets back on the floor being able to transition pretty smoothly, waiting on that.”

There is no panic, though, because this is Golden State’s fifth consecutive NBA Finals appearance. The Warriors have been there and done that in terms of nearly every scenario they could face, and the next two days for them are about adjustments and counters in addition to better balancing the offense beyond Curry.

“You lose a game, you come back and you try to win,” Kerr said. “And the team we’re playing knows that better than anybody. They were down 2-0 and came back and won four straight (in the Eastern Conference Finals). So these things change quickly, but you have to be prepared for everything. You have to learn from your mistakes. You have to keep fighting. It’s actually pretty simple.”

Curry finished with 34 points, with his 14 free throw attempts a playoff-season high. He was 8 of 18 from the field, including 4 of 9 from 3-point range, but the subtle adjustments he made in-game — most notably not settling on the perimeter and attacking the paint through the middle as opposed to dragging help defenders on the baseline — made Golden State more efficient offensively in the second half.

“They’ve got a lot of size out there and they are trapping Steph really hard,” Warriors forward Kevon Looney told The Athletic. “We tried to keep Steph off the sideline, keep him in the middle of the floor. Set (the screen) out higher so he has more floor to work with. It’s tough for a big to be out there with Steph at halfcourt.”

May 31, 20190 contributed 21 points and hit 3 of 6 from 3-point range, while Golden State’s bench delivered a standout performance offensively with 36 points. Looney had nine to pace the reserves while both May 31, 20191 and May 31, 20192 each hit a pair of 3-pointers.

May 31, 20193 made his first appearance since tearing his quadriceps in Game 2 of the first round versus the Los Angeles Clippers and had three points, two assists, and two steals in eight minutes. It would seem likely he will be in line for more minutes, especially if Golden State does solve its transition defense issues.

“Obviously, I’m rusty coming fresh off of an injury, but I got a taste of the speed, which is good for me,” Cousins said. “So hopefully it will go better for me in Game 2.”

May 31, 20194 appeared to favor his right leg coming down off a basket in the fourth quarter, but Kerr said Friday an MRI came back negative and the veteran swingman is expected to play Sunday night.

Golden State has not faced a 2-0 series deficit since losing in the first round in four games to Utah in 2007.

Raptors look to avoid complacency, protect home court

Thursday night was well worth the 24-year wait for a NBA Finals game for the Raptors, the city of Toronto, and Canada as the crowd was deafening at times and the Jurassic Park venues sprouting up all over the city and country were sites of gleeful, celebratory mayhem.

And Siakam was the toast of the city following his breakout game. He made 14 of 17 shots overall and helped fluster Green on the defensive end. Yes, Green did have his triple-double, but he was just 2 of 9 from the field and committed a team-high six turnovers.

Over a stretch of more than two quarters from 3:49 remaining in the second half until the final minute of the game, the Raptors forward made 11 straight shots — with no discernible pattern. There were layups, mid-range jumpers, a 3-pointer, runners — it ran the gamut.

And Siakam has been doing it against some of the best big men in the game with each progessive round, starting with Joel Embiid in the conference semifinals, Giannis Antetokounmpo last round, and now Green.

“I think I always say, I learned a lot and I know I have a lot to learn. I think that’s one of the advantages for me. I know I have so much to learn. I have to grow,” Siakam said Friday. “It allows me to look at my mistakes and evaluate them and try to see how I can do better. … That’s something that I try to do, just try to be a little smarter and learning every single night out there on the court.”

In addition to Siakam running wild, the Raptors got notable offensive contributions beyond Kawhi Leonard — who did finish with 23 points. Marc Gasol had a playoff-season best 20 points in his NBA Finals debut, hitting a pair of 3-pointers to help stretch Golden State’s defense.

“They were blitzing Kawhi on the pick-and-roll and allowing the middle of the floor open or they were switching early on the offense,” Gasol explained. “We did a good job of moving that ball and finding — I still think we can do a better job on it, but it was good enough and I still think that we can do a much better job defensively than we did tonight on stretches.”

Raptors coach Nick Nurse picked up on that theme in Saturday’s media availability, noting the Warriors were sending “the blitz” late at Leonard, which was something the Warriors had not shown previously. Nurse does expect his team to handle it better after being “mediocre” in Game 1.

@PeelPoliceMedia1, who endured a miserable Eastern Conference finals in which he totaled seven points and shot 1 of 15 from beyond the arc in Games 3 through 6, chipped in 11 while making 3 of 7 from beyond the arc.

And @PeelPoliceMedia2 continued providing an offensive spark off the bench with 15 points, but did so inside the arc as he hit all four of his 2-point shots and went 4 of 6 from the foul line.

Those performances helped obscure the fact @PeelPoliceMedia3 finished with just seven points. But the Raptors point guard factored heavily in other areas, totaling nine assists and six rebounds while also taking a pair of charges to blunt Warriors rallies.

“Like I said, we have real professionals. We have some great guys in that locker room,” Lowry said regarding the team’s make-up and even-keeled demeanor. “It all just rubs together and everyone has their own personalities, but we figure a way out to just all understand what the common goal was.”

Lowry has a 2.98 assist-to-turnover ratio in addition to his 14.3 points per game in the postseason. While Nurse is hesitant to call Lowry’s scoring a luxury, he is going to continue to give him the freedom to do the things he does best.

“I think that one of the best things about this team is that you don’t have to put a burden of 20 to 25 points on him,” Nurse said, “because he’s going to defend, he’s going to lead the team, he’s going to make those tough plays. He just instinctually does that game after game after game.”

Toronto has won six straight playoff home games, averaging 112.2 points and averaging 13.2 3-pointers during that streak. The Raptors have won the first two games of a playoff series just once in club history — in last year’s first round versus the Washington Wizards.

Best Bets for this Game

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This game boils down to two words that will be thrown about ad nauseum until tip-off Sunday night.

Championship mettle.

The Warriors have to show the mettle they have accrued and earned from their previous three NBA titles and four finals appearances, while the Raptors must figure out how to parlay their first championship chip — their skin in the game, so to speak — into a performance that helps them protect home court and ensure at the very worst the series will return to Canada tied.

To a man, from Kerr down through the players, there was a sense of calm about the Game 1 loss from the Warriors camp. Kerr was anything but that at points during the game, burning timeouts to light into his team about its lack of transition defense.

Still, this team is a very measured bunch, and as Green noted Friday, self-accountability is one of this team’s strong suits. A team doesn’t win three titles in four years without it, and there will be a much quicker fuse if a mistake is made.

There is still the issue of finding a third scorer for Golden State without Durant, though Curry has shown no ill-effects of shouldering the load. If he needs to score 30, so be it. Forty? Fine.

Thompson has been the enigma because there have been times he looks like he’s going to pop off for one of those unconscious shooting spurts, but that has yet to happen. He hit a pair of rhythm 3-pointers in Game 1, but the 16 turnovers Golden State committed ruined any chance of extending it to multiple possessions.

The challenge for the Raptors will be realizing that duplicating Game 1 is not going to happen in certain areas. For example, Siakam is not going to hit 11 straight shots again. Gasol is not going to be left alone above the arc again. Golden State will finish its defensive rotations to challenge shots.

On the plus side, Lowry will likely not finish with only seven points and could duplicate his nine assists. Leonard should again get to the foul line consistently even as Golden State’s defense sags into the lane more.

It would not be surprising to see Cousins get more minutes because Golden State will not be trying to slow the pace of the game down as much as simply slowing Toronto to make the Raptors run half-court sets.

There were more than a few baskets the Raptors made in Game 1 that Kerr “can live with” on the whole, but if Golden State reduces the number of Toronto transition points by even a third — which would be 16 — it will return to the Bay Area with a split and home-court advantage. The pick is the Warriors straight up as opposed to taking the two points with the feeling the champs will win outright.

Prediction: Warriors (+115)

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Once more, the line has been driven down closer to tip-off, and while the expectation is the adjustments Golden State will make defensively will help deliver the under, the contrarian feeling is the Warriors offense will also have enough new wrinkles to offset that and help deliver the over again.

The over improved to 7-2 in Golden State’s last nine NBA Finals game and 5-1-1 in its last seven on the road.

The over is also 5-2-1 in the defending champs’ last eight following a straight up loss and 7-2-1 when allowing 100 or more in the previous game.

On Toronto’s side, the over improved to 7-1 in its last eight against above-.500 teams and continued trending in the head-to-head matchups. The over has delivered in the last five games north of the border and is 7-2 in the last nine overall.

That is expected to continue in this contest amid the adjustments and counteradjustments because of the on-court nous of these players. That was most evident in the amount of free throws made — a combined 56 as they shot a collective 88.9 percent. The high amount was not due to “stupid” fouls as much as it was players on offense drawing fouls to get to the line.

Prediction: OVER 213.5 points (-105)

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There is confidence in taking the over for the defending champs with the expectation they will have more hustle and flow in Game 2 than the series opener. Golden State shot better than 50 percent in the second half of Game 1, with Curry making subtle adjustments in its halfcourt sets to get downhill.

The Warriors will continue to do that, and if they cut down on the live-ball turnovers as expected, this number should clear comfortably with them getting above 110.

And in keeping with this space’s tradition with the help of Points.bet, here are three player prop bets for each team (Note, the 5/5 confidence pick is only for the Warriors clearing 105.5 points):

Golden State — Draymond Green OVER 8.5 assists (+108);  Curry OVER 42.5 points+rebounds+assists (-115); Thompson OVER 21.5 points+Warriors win (+250).

Toronto — Kyle Lowry OVER 14.5 points (-113); Leonard +1.5 points/Under 62.5 points (+200); Siakam UNDER 18.5 points (-110)

Prediction: Warriors OVER 105.5 points (-121)

Half-Time Side Pick

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The Raptors are still good value for a lead after two quarters, having led at the break in eight of their 11 postseason home games. Golden State extended its drought in this area to seven games (0-6-1) on the road, and with a veteran team in the Warriors, they are not going to place needless additional emphasis on leading at any point other than the final.

This is taking the home team and the slim margin to cover.

Prediction: Raptors -1 (-121)

Half-Time Total Bet

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Considering the halftime total of Game 1 was 108, this is a toss-up pick. The belief is the Warriors will get more shots off in the first half by cutting down on the live-ball turnovers and continue to hunt shots early in the shot clock to increase the possessions total for both teams.

This pick comes down to shot-making, and the expectation is the teams will do enough.

Prediction: OVER 109 points (-115)

Half-Time Prop Prediction

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The expectation is the first-quarter number will fall between the 46 scored in Game 1 and the number established. The number has come under 50 in five of Toronto’s 11 home playoff games, and while that is likely too low a number, the more likely outcome is a finish between 50 and 55 points.

Prediction: UNDER 55 points (-110)
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Written By Chris Altruda

A 1994 graduate of Marquette University when they were known as the Warriors and Brooklyn native, Chris Altruda is based in Chicago. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiner, he worked at three major U.S. wire services and also has prior experience in sports handicapping and daily fantasy roster building. Now that the Cubs have won a World Series, he holds out hope the Jets will win a Super Bowl before he dies. Follow Chris daily right here at W&W and on Twitter at @AlTruda73. You won’t be disappointed.