Dinos Defend the 6ix in Overtime Win against 2018’s NBA Champions The Golden State Warriors
Last night the Toronto Raptors defeated the Goliath of the NBA, the Golden State Warriors in an entertaining overtime, grueling win at the Scotiabank Arena. Now before we enter deep dive on probably one of the greatest games so far of the Raptors 2018-2019 season, please be advised that both 2x MVP Stephen Curry and the Warriors leading big man Draymond Green were out due to a right big toe injury. This context is very important to the breakdown of this interesting matchup.
From the tip off, the Raptors seemed to be very in control of the tempo. The energy in the arena was comparable to a Playoff game; it was indeed electric. It was as if Hollywood had come to Toronto and it pretty much did. Tonight was more than special as the NBA celebrated the late and phenomenally great Sportscaster Craig Sager. Broadcasters alike and Raptors Head Coach Nick Nurse showed off flashy sports coats to commemorate his legacy as well as support the #SagerStrong initiative which was created when Sager lost his battle to Cancer in late 2016. It was beautiful to see the NBA and all of its affiliates come together to for such a worthy cause.
Now back to this edge of your seat and thriller of a game. This was one for the books as the narrative changed for the Raptors heading into the third quarter. As mentioned earlier, the Raptors held the lead throughout the first half. They got off to an amazing start building the lead with huge buckets from Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka and Kawhi Leonard. These players along with Raptors frontman Kyle Lowry were pivotal in last nights win. But make no mistake that this was a very difficult game, as they really had to elevate to eventually defeat the Warriors. The third quarter was where the Raptors started to lose steam. They were up 77-62 at the 8-minute mark and Kevin Durrant had only scored 24 points. Durrant during the quarter played exceptionally well and that also lead into the 4thquarter. He was literally on fire – every shot that went up landed. Now the reason for all of these shot opportunities was the second unit. The Raptors did not seem to have an answer for Durrant. Although Og Anunoby was doing his best to lock him down defensively, his efforts did come up short. It should be that noted that Durrant scored 7 of 9 shots in the quarter and 2 free throws – he was unstoppable. Golden State outscored Toronto in the 3rd, 30 -29 which doesn’t look like much on paper but this level of play was the driving force behind a successful 4thquarter. The warriors were defensively strong. They were playing very tight triangle defense, which made it very difficult for the Raptors to take it to the rim; most shots weren’t in the paint. Kawhi did a very great job creating great shot opportunities for his cast members but the Raptors weren’t dropping shots and this was a key factor in closing the gap in the 3rdquarter. He put the team on his back to keep them in the game.
It should be noted that a lot of the issues stemmed from the lack of rebounding by Toronto Raptors. Golden State out rebounded the Raps 56 – 45. This lead to too many missed 2ndchance shot opportunities. Jonas Valunciunus subbed in for Ibaka in the 3rd and 4thquarter but was getting beat on the offensive under the net. He had 4 rebounds, all defensive and finished with 12 points. Right now JV is averaging around 7.3 rebounds a game. When looking forward to the future matchups against the Warriors, he will need to step up defensively in order to help leverage more shot opportunities for the Raptors on offense. Now the closing of the gap cannot be solely on JV but the rest of the bench. They only scored 25 points compared to Tuesday’s win against Memphis where the bench contributed a solid 41 points. This is very important to note, as the Raptors need significant contribution from them to help the starters when playing winning teams. By the end of the 3rdquarter the Raptors were up 88-86. At this point Durrant has scored 38 points, 18 in the 3rdquarter alone.
The fourth quarter was one for the record books. The Raptors could feel the hot stones on their back; they knew what they were up against and the climb to the top wouldn’t be easy. Delon Wright kicked off the 4th with 2 big shots that gave the Raps some momentum and that made the crowd go wild. The Scotiabank Arena was full to capacity and everyone was locked all the way in. Jonas Jerebko of the Warriors responded with a huge dunk; he found a hole in out defense and capitalized. His play in the 4thquarter worked very well for Warriors with several big shots along with Klay Thomson. There were a handful of timeouts exchanged by head coaches Steve Kerr and Nick Nurse. Lowry shot a big 2 followed by huge shots by Leonard and Danny Green. At 4 minutes and 30 seconds, the Raptors were up by 10 points. The Raptors started to fall back a bit on defense. Kevin Looney hit 2 of his free throws followed by a dunk by Durrant. At a minute and 30 seconds left in the quarter, the Raptors held the lead to 116-112. Lowry hits a deep three and the Raptors fans are all on their feet. Durrant responds with 2 back-to-back shots beyond the arc, which takes us into overtime at 119-119.
The Raptors did seem exhausted but persevered through Overtime. Kawhi was very impressive and his leadership abilities in the 4th quarter and OT. He pushed the momentum forward and finished with a total of 37 points and 8 rebounds. Pascal Siakam who finished with a career high of 26 points scored the first bucket in OT. Followed by Serge Ibaka hitting a 16-foot jumper to bring the lead to 123-119. Serge attempted to go for a layup where he appeared to be fouled but there was no call. Durrant responds at the opposite end and is fouled by Leonard; he makes both free throws. The Raptors then proceeded to miss a layup, followed by another shot by KD. Siakam misses a shot and KD continues to dominate in OT. Danny Green hit a huge three with a beautiful assist by Kyle Lowry across the arc. Although Lowry didn’t have his typical stats in points, he was successful at leading his team and contributing 10 points, 8 rebounds and 12 assists. Raps lead 128 – 123. Lowry gets back on defense and takes on Andre Igoudala and forced a game changing turnover. Lowry hits the ball to Siakam and he’s fouled. He made both free throws and was fouled once again to make 1 of 2 shots at the line. The Raptors get the offensive rebound. The game basically ends with a slue of fouls by the Warriors and Siakam really showing up at the free throw line. Raptors win an impressive, tough game at home 131 -128. This was the first time the Raptors have been the Golden State Warriors since 2014.
Looking forward the Raptors will have to work on several things in order to beat Golden State when Draymond Green and Stephen Curry return to the lineup. It was great indicator that they have the capacity to beat great teams and will look forward to perservering through upcoming games against the Cavs, Nuggets and 76ers.