NBA Finals Preview - Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors

Nabeela Damji
BarnBurner Sports Writer

@Nabeeladamji

Thursday, May 30, 2019


Someone placed a lucky Loonie under center court at Scotiabank Arena before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Against the Warriors, the Raptors might need a five dollar bill.

Nick Nurse will become the first former G League coach to appear in the NBA Finals, as the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors face off in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday in Toronto.

The Warriors have been to the last five finals, and have won three championships in that span. 

As for the team that won over 50 games last season, then proceed to fire the coach of the year, and trade their best player?

Well, this is their first trip to the finals. 

Ever.

That being said, Toronto took both games against the Golden State this year, which was only the second regular-season sweep against them since Steve Kerr took over coaching duties in 2014. Kawhi Leonard led Toronto in scoring during the first meeting with 37 points, while the Warriors leading scorer head-to-head, Kevin Durant, is expected to sit out for the start of the finals with a calf injury.

Leonard has also been the messiah of this historic run for Toronto, averaging 31.2 points per game in the postseason this year, while hitting the 30 point mark in 11 games – just two short of the record held by Michael Jordan in 1989. He also leads all players in the playoffs in points scored with 561. Coach Nurse’s experiment of shifting lineups has come in handy creating a versatile and flexible group heading forward. Pascal Siakam has been playing some of the best basketball of his career, and in his first postseason as a starter is averaging nearly 19 points on 46 percent from the field. Danny Green, who’s scoring slump couldn’t have come at a worse time, not having scored any points in the last two games of the Eastern Conference Finals on a combined seven shots. The good-ish news is Green has postseason experience against the Warriors, having faced them in 2013, 2017, and 2018 as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. The other good-ish news is that even with Green in a slump, the likes of Norman Powell and Fred Van Fleet have stepped up, rounding out the bench for the Raptors.

 The Warriors, even without Durant and Demarcus Cousins, are a widespread talent with a ton of experience to boot. Steph Curry’s ability to stress out defenses, as well as the Warriors ability to hit repeat threes and go on huge runs is something the Raptors will have to keep in check. If you did a little dance and exhaled at the thought of Durant not playing, I’ve got some bad news for you. Curry has actually performed BETTER without him.  Yes, better. He averaged just 23 points in 11 playoff games with Durant.  Without, he’s averaging 36.  

Home court advantage is something Golden State is without for the first time in their current run of five finals appearances.  The Raptors will have home court and are 8-2 in the Six this postseason. And if you think the hype is just in Toronto, you are sadly mistaken.  Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment announced that 10 Canadians cities have been approved to set up free public viewing spaces where residents can watch each game, creating mini “Jurassic Parks” across Canada. They also announced a partnership with Cineplex, which will open 33 theaters from Newfoundland to British Columbia for free screenings of the finals.

What a time to be alive, Canada.  Sit back and enjoy every moment Raptors fans.

 You Earned it. The City earned it. The country earned it.

Game 1 is Thursday in Toronto.