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.
Fred VanVleet with the swift steal. pic.twitter.com/S1O8GoCm56
— TheHipHopGuru (@thhguru) June 3, 2019
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.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) June 3, 2019
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.
"See you in the Bay, Aubrey. You weren't talking tonight were you?"
Klay and KD were chirping with Drake in the tunnel postgame. pic.twitter.com/t3z04h7MvD
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 3, 2019
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.
Golden State Warriors forward Kevon Looney suffered a fracture in his collar bone and will be out indefinitely in the NBA Finals, league sources tell ESPN. Looney underwent an MRI on Monday.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 4, 2019
“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.
Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins, and Andre Iguodala became the first quartet of teammates with at least 5 PTS, 5 REB and 5 AST in a #NBAFinals game since New York's Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Dave DeBusschere and Dick Barnett in 1970. @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/UygyTtD2dW
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) June 3, 2019
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.”
The Raptors are:
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven road games vs. teams with an above-.600 home record.
- 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight playoff games as underdogs between 5-10.5 points.
- 3-11 ATS in their last 14 road games vs. the Warriors.
The Warriors are:
- 4-1 ATS in their last five NBA Finals games.
- 35-17 ATS in their last 52 playoff games as favorites between 5-10.5 points.
- 7-2 ATS in their last nine games on two or more days of rest.