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.
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Warriors look for answers to correct transition defense woes
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.
GSW with 14 FBPS, TOR with 24. On every miss GSW 3, Lowry/Siakam/Kawhi have been waiting for the C to give the outlet pass and push as early as possible. Shooters spacing to the corners is opening up the driving lanes in transition. Open 3 for Green here. Great effort by Siakam. pic.twitter.com/oB9c8JOZIc
— Sean Lo (@slo_ball) May 31, 2019
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.
The Warriors lost, yes, but the general feeling afterward from a team who has been here before that they still came away feeling very positive about what's ahead after measuring up against the Raptors. @timkawakami on a team that seemed unflustered. https://t.co/a1hLkxOlq3
— The Athletic NBA (@TheAthleticNBA) May 31, 2019
“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.
— Tim and Sid (@timandsid) May 31, 2019
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.
Siakam just undressing Green here. pic.twitter.com/Laay0ODnUs
— Raptors Republic (@raptorsrepublic) May 31, 2019
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.
Betting on Marc Gasol at the deadline is paying off— he opens opportunities everywhere for Toronto.
■ Back-to-the-basket moves that force the Warriors to play him big
■ Spreads the floor early with improved range
■ Can hit shots and post moves off pick-and-roll pic.twitter.com/5MZQbHzyWz
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) @PeelPoliceMedia0
“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.
The Warriors are:
- 12-5 ATS in their last 17 games following an ATS loss.
- 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up loss.
- 6-2 ATS in their last eight games on two days’ rest.
The Raptors are:
- 1-4 in their last five games playing on two days’ rest.