Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#525 Toronto Raptors 214 vs.
#526 Golden State Warriors -4.5
Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 9:07pm EDT
Oracle Arena, Oakland
Written by Chris Altruda

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#525 Toronto
#526 Golden State
71-31
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112
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Toronto Raptors at Golden State Warriors

When and Where: Wednesday, June 5, Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif., 9:07 p.m. EDT.

Series tied 1-1.

UPDATES 6/5 @ 3:30 p.m. CDT with full picks

Now that they have home-court advantage, the defending champion Golden State Warriors look to utilize it Wednesday night in their first game at Oracle Arena in 20 days as they host the Toronto Raptors in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

Keep this page bookmarked! There will be multiple updates to this preview ahead of the Game 3 tip-off with quotes from both teams’ coaches and playoffs as well as side, over/under, and player prop picks courtesy the lines at Pointsbet.com!

Raptors look for answers after third-quarter blitzing

Toronto looked like it had everything under control with 2:04 left in the first half. The Raptors held a 56-45 lead after Fred VanVleet stripped Stephen Curry and scored a layup, the Scotiabank Arena was going bonkers, and they got the ball back after Kevon Looney was called for an offensive foul.

That play, however, may also finally have stirred the leviathan that is Golden State. Klay Thompson hit a 3-pointer before Curry scored the Warriors’ final six points of the half to cut the deficit to five at intermission.

Then came the adjustments as Thompson started the second half defending Kawhi Leonard and Andre Iguodala was matched up with Pascal Siakam. Golden State went on one of its patented third-quarter blitzes, opening the half on an 18-0 tear that turned the game and potentially series on its head — Toronto went scoreless for the first 5:40 of the third quarter, an eternity during which the Warriors wrested control of the game.

“Obviously they know how to make adjustments because they have done it before,” Siakam said Tuesday. “We also have a team of veterans and guys that know what’s going on. It’s definitely something like that where we need to make adjustments and people are going to bring, you’re going to have different matchups and it feels like every possession changes, not changes but like make a judgment or try to do different things or other teams do different things. So it’s definitely interesting.”

The Raptors made a fourth-quarter charge after Nurse’s unorthodox decision to play a box-and-1 defense on Curry in the final five minutes. It worked to a degree because of its sheer novelty, and it was helped in effectiveness — Golden State’s lone basket in the final 5:39 was Iguodala’s dagger 3-pointer with 5.9 seconds left — because Thompson had left the game by that point due a hamstring injury.

The junk defense could wind up being something Nurse uses for short bursts to throw Golden State off rhythm depending on the in-game lineups for both teams or how Kerr rotates his personnel around Curry when he goes to his second unit.

“We played some zone during the regular season, and usually you do it when the game is funky and there’s a bad rhythm and maybe you can change it just by slowing them down or stopping some of their cutting or whatever,” Nurse explained Tuesday during media availability. “It seemed to protect the rim better for us and stop some of their cutting. And it was good. I don’t know, I was just trying to come up with something to stop them.

Toronto, though, does have other issues it will need to address in the run-up to Game 3. Siakam was never going to replicate his 32-point performance from Game 1, but 12 points while shooting 5 for 18 was a steep fall-off as both Iguodala and Draymond Green did well to contain him.

The additional secondary scoring Marc Gasol provided in Game 1 when he scored a playoff-season high 20 points also disappeared Sunday night as he finished with six on 2-of-7 shooting. The veteran center was worked hard on both ends of the floor by DeMarcus Cousins and only found space for a pair of 3-pointers that missed.

“He obviously came out with a certain game plan against Gasol,” Nurse remarked about Cousins while also praising his offensive play. “The first possession of the game he went out and damn near tackled him, and then the ball went out of bounds and he clobbered him again on the way out of bounds. So he was obviously going to go out there and try to physically intimidate him.”

VanVleeet had an admirable game, finishing with 17 points and three assists while shadowing Curry and playing a playoff-career high 38 minutes, necessitated by Kyle Lowry‘s foul trouble as the starting point guard’s night ended with 3:52 to play on an ill-advised reach-in foul.

It is too early to call VanVleet a Curry “stopper,” but he has done more than expected in helping the Raptors arrive in the Bay Area knowing the series will at least return to Toronto for Game 5.

“Yeah, it’s tough, he’s tough. He’s best in the business,” VanVleet said about the matchup. “That’s why he is who he is. He’s such a smart player and he knows how to get his shot, and his team looks for him and they got a good rhythm, and they don’t have to run plays or anything. They’re just playing basketball. So you can’t relax, you can’t have any lapses.”

While the performances of Toronto’s peripheral players fluctuated, Leonard remained constant as he finished with 34 points and 14 rebounds, sinking all 14 of his free throws. He single-handedly kept the Raptors in the game in the third quarter with 12 points in a 4:13 stretch, but he had already turned the page in looking ahead to Game 3 to help his team regain home-court advantage.

“Just coming in as one, you know what I mean,” Leonard said in his matter-of-fact style. “Obviously on somebody else’s home floor, they got the sixth man with the crowd, but just have to buy into ourselves and come out hard, strong, no mistake, no turnovers, and same thing you got to do at home.”

Warriors in race to get healthy for Game 3

Though the Game 2 victory did give the Warriors home-court advantage for the moment, one wonders where it was almost a sense of “two steps forward, one step back” given it finished the contest minus Thompson and Looney due to injuries.

Thompson’s injury was particularly frustrating as he finished with a team-high 25 points despite missing the final 7:59 after straining his hamstring on an awkward landing following a missed 3-pointer. It cut short one of his better games of the postseason — Thompson hit 4 of 6 from beyond the arc and 10 of 17 overall — but he expects to play Wednesday night.

As a result, all of the Bay Area has become fixated on Thompson’s hamstring, with the All-Star guard saying he will be a game-time decision Wednesday night while erring on the side of caution should it not be to his liking.

“I anticipated getting hit, which I probably shouldn’t have done. I landed awkwardly, just kind of tweaked my hamstring,” Thompson said Tuesday. “When you’re moving, it’s all good. But right when you stop moving around, it just really tightened up on me like a knot and I couldn’t really get any full motion anymore.

“So I called to come out of the game because I literally couldn’t run like I’m used to. It sucked. But like I said before, the progress I made these last couple days is very encouraging. And if it continues, I look forward to playing tomorrow night.”

Looney was spent sprawling after contact on a drive-by Leonard in the first half, resulting in a sprained collarbone that will sideline him the remainder of this series. Kerr has the challenge of filling the 27-plus minutes per game Looney logged in the five games before Game 2 with both Andrew Bogut and Jordan Bell.

“We have been playing a hundred-plus games for five years now — not all of our players, but our team,” Kerr said Tuesday while also confirming Kevin Durant will miss Game 3 as he continues to recover from a strained calf suffered in the conference semifinals. “So we have a lot of guys who have played long, difficult seasons. They take great care of themselves.

“But there’s a certain amount of luck involved with this, too, and we know that. We have been on both sides of that. Some of our opponents have suffered injuries. We have suffered injuries. It’s just part of the deal. You just keep pushing forward.”

Despite the injuries, the Warriors once more lived up to their credo of “Strength in Numbers” as everyone who came off the bench and saw significant playing time had at least one basket as the reserves totaled 25 points.

But it was the re-introduction of Cousins at center — the NBA playoff record-tying ninth different lineup Kerr has trotted out in the postseason — which made the biggest impact. After playing only eight minutes in Game 1 in his first action after suffering a torn quad in Game 2 of the first round, Cousins labored his way through 28 minutes in impressive fashion, finishing with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists.

Offensively, he kept the ball moving, which allowed Curry and Thompson to relocate themselves in the construct of Golden State’s halfcourt offense and provided the length to challenge Gasol both high on the pick-and-roll and low to be an effective rim protector on the defensive end.

“This is what I’ve worked for my entire career, to be on this stage, to have this opportunity to play for something,” Cousins said. “But once they told me I had a chance, a slight chance, of being able to return, it basically was up to me and the work and the time I put in behind the injury, it was up to me. So I put the work in and the time in and with God’s grace I’m able to be out here and play the game that I love.”

Green narrowly missed his fourth consecutive triple-double, finishing one assist shy to go with 17 points, and 10 rebounds, but he lived up to his promise of going after Siakam defensively, limiting him to 1-of-8 shooting when matched up with the Raptors forward.

Not unnoticed were Quinn Cook‘s 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions early in the fourth quarter while Thompson was on the court hobbling that turned back an early Raptors charge. Bogut, the next man up at center after Looney went down, scored all six of his points in the second half on alley-oop feeds.

Cook, who averaged 6.9 points and shot 40.5 percent from 3-point range, is the most likely candidate to replace Thompson if he is held out Wednesday night. The third-year guard made 10 starts during the regular season and averaged 11.7 points while shooting 38 percent (19 for 50) from deep in those games.

Cook started in the 131-128 overtime loss at Toronto on Nov 29 and had eight points in 21 minutes on 4-of-9 shooting.

Curry himself shook off something that was bothering him as he finished with 23 points despite shooting 3 of 10 from deep and 6 of 17 overall. But his willingness to be a decoy in the offense at times, running brush screens with Thompson to help lift the floor for teammates to convert back-door layups, helped increase the overall efficiency.

Curry, who jokingly labeled the box-and-1 defense as “janky” while noting he probably last faced it while at Davidson in college, did not seem all that worried if the Raptors tried it again during the series.

“We’ll be prepared for what they throw at us going forward in this series. Just got to be able to adapt,” he said. “That’s pretty much what The Finals is about at this stage, where you have to expect to see literally anything and a lot of desperation in certain moments of games when they make those type of calls. So we’ll be ready for whatever.”

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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The spread has moved 1.5 points in Toronto’s favor, which coincides more with Thompson’s uncertain status than Durant being confirmed as out for Game 3. This space expects Thompson to play, which means the pick will not come off the Warriors, with the spread providing slightly more margin of error given the feel of punch and counterpunch this series has now evolved to.

That said, the first scene-shifting game of the series always feels like the one that could play to a blowout. It should also be noted this will be the first playoff game at Oracle Arena in 20 days between the Warriors sweeping Portland and starting the NBA Finals on the road, so the atmosphere should be as frenzied as Toronto was for Game 1.

Regardless of Durant’s status, Golden State got back into this series because of its connectivity on both ends of the court. The defensive adjustments helped fuel the offense, with the signature tell of efficiency being the Warriors’ 34 assists on their 38 field goals.

They became just the second team in NBA Finals history — along with the 2004-05 San Antonio Spurs — to record an assist on every second-half basket, getting 22 helpers. Championship basketball is sharing the basketball, and few — if any — do it better than the Warriors when they are in the mood.

The Raptors still have plenty of fight left in them, and if Thompson is not 100 percent due to his hamstring, Kerr’s adjustment of him picking up Leonard will have to be reconsidered. Leonard has yet to have a standout game from the field, but he is still savvy enough to keep getting to the foul line and playmaking for his teammates.

This game could have more feeling-out moments as some of the first wrinkles and adjustments take hold, but this feels like a game where the Warriors flex their championship muscle and begin applying series pressure on the Raptors for the first time.

Prediction: Warriors -4.5 (-105)

Full-Game Total Pick

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There is still plenty of confidence in the over hitting despite the late-game shooting meltdown that resulted in just 10 points combined in the final 4:26 and over bettors tearing their hair out at finishing one-half point short.

A key reason is both teams are shooting incredibly well from the foul line. They are a combined 99 for 112 (88.3 percent) at the charity stripe, proving in this series free throws are free points. It also helps that the right players — Curry, Leonard, and Draymond Green — are the ones getting to the foul line because a miss from any of them is few and far in between.

The over also continues to trend strongly head-to-head as the series shifts west, having gone 8-2 in the last 10 games played at Golden State and 8-2 in the last 10 overall following the split of the first two games.

The over is also 4-1 in Golden State’s last five games vs. above-.600 teams and 8-2 in both its last 10 NBA Finals games and above-.500 teams. On the Raptors side, the over is 5-2 in their last seven games overall and 7-2 in their last nine playoff games when underdogs between 5.0 and 10.5 points.

Prediction: OVER 213.5 points (-105)

Full-Game Prop Bet

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The logical extension of taking both the Warriors and the over for this contest, which is an aggressive pick given Thompson’s questionable status. But the expectation is the home-court advantage will give Golden State a boost, and there will be a Stephen Curry shimmy at some point in this contest.

The Warriors did score 112 or more points in two of the four regular-season games Thompson missed, but also were held to 104 or less in the other two.

Additionally, one second-half side bet to consider is the Warriors -1.5 in the third quarter. Golden State has won both third quarters in this series and had three double-digit margins in the last five games while averaging 31.2 points.

And now, courtesy of PointsBet.com, three player prop picks for each team:

Toronto — Leonard OVER 30.5 points (+107); Lowry OVER 13.5 points (-130); Siakam UNDER 18.5 points (-139).

Golden State — Curry OVER 41.5 points+assists+rebounds (-115); Cousins OVER 13.5 points (-121); Curry YES on double-double (+121).

Prediction: Warriors OVER 109 points (-115)

Half-Time Side Pick

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This is closer to a toss-up pick pending Thompson’s status, but the Warriors are worth a flyer considering they have led at halftime in six of their eight postseason games at Oracle Arena, and the home-court advantage could serve as the swing vote in a one-possession spread.

The Raptors are 4-4 at halftime on the road in the postseason, but they have trailed by double figures on three occasions.

Prediction: Warriors -2 (-110)

Half-Time Total Bet

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It is rational to believe this number is a hedge against Thompson not playing, but after 108 and 113 points were scored in the first two games, it still feels too low. That especially holds true if the teams continue to get to the foul line at their current rates.

There is a sense something has to give considering Golden State has cleared this mark in six of its eight home games while Toronto has done so just twice in eight on the road, but with the Warriors having scored 58 or more first-half points on five occasions, the play is the over.

Prediction: OVER 105 points (-110)

Half-Time Prop Prediction

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The previous mention regarding Golden State scoring 58 or more on five occasions plays into this pick, and the Warriors have scored 53 or more in all but one of their eight games at Oracle Arena.

While there is confidence in the over hitting for the first half, the Raptors have been sub-50 in the opening 24 minutes on five occasions in the playoffs on the road, which makes the Warriors the better play for this bet.

Prediction: Warriors OVER 53.5 points (-115)
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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.