2019 NBA Finals: Golden State Warriors vs. Toronto Raptors Series Preview & Prediction

Date | AuthorAdmir Aljic

Last Updated: 2019-05-27

The Western Conference champions Golden State Warriors will take on the Eastern Conference champions Toronto Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals, and the opening clash is set at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada, Thursday, May 30, 2019. The Warriors will be looking for their third straight championship and fourth over the last five years, and the defending champions are listed as strong -300 favorites to win this series even though their rivals have a home-court advantage. The Raptors made it to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history and are listed as +240 underdogs to win the title.

For the fifth straight year, the Golden State Warriors are back in the NBA Finals. The reigning champions dropped a couple of games in each of the first two rounds against the Los Angeles Clippers and the Houston Rockets, while they swept the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Final. Still, it wasn’t an easy job for the Warriors who trailed by 14 or more points in each of the last three games against the Blazers. Also, the Dubs lost Kevin Durant due to a calf injury in Game 5 of the conference semifinals, winning five games in a row since then. Durant won’t suit up for the opening game of the series, and he’s unlikely to play in Game 2 in Toronto. DeMarcus Cousins (quad) could return to the floor after missing 14 consecutive games, but he’ll get limited minutes, for sure.

Stephen Curry led the Warriors in the conference finals, averaging 36.5 points per game on 47.1% shooting from the field and 42.5% from beyond the arc. Curry proved he’s a true leader without Kevin Durant in the lineup, and the Warriors are ridiculous 28-1 straight up in their last 29 outings without KD, but with Steph on the floor. Klay Thompson is tallying 19.1 points this postseason, making 39.3% of his 3-pointers, and the Warriors will need Klay at his best until Durant returns. Draymond Green is having a wonderful postseason, and he was unstoppable against the Blazers with 16.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 2.8 blocks, and 2.3 steals per contest. The Warriors are scoring 117.3 points per game this postseason on 48.7% shooting from the field and 37.0% from beyond the 3-point line, allowing 110.5 points in a return on 44.2% shooting from the field and 36.5% from beyond the arc.

On the other side, the Toronto Raptors had an easy job in the first round, beating the Orlando Magic in five games. In the conference semis, the Raptors played a real thriller with the Philadelphia 76ers, winning the series in seven games, while they overcame a two-game deficit in the Eastern Conference Finals to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks in six games. The Raptors were on the brink of a tough loss in Game 3 against the Bucks, winning the clash after double overtime which was a massive boost for their confidence. Their second unit finally started to contribute in the last three contests, especially Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka. VanVleet shot 61.7% from downtown in the conference finals, making 14 triples out of 17 attempts over the previous three outings.

Kawhi Leonard was a key player for the Raptors this postseason, tallying 31.2 points per game on 50.7% shooting from the field and 38.8% from deep along with 8.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists. Leonard is a huge force at the offensive end, but he’s also a lockdown defender. Kyle Lowry had a few outstanding displays in the postseason, and the veteran playmaker will have the most difficult matchup with Steph Curry, so he needs to be aggressive on both sides of the ball. Marc Gasol and Pascal Siakam both had some ups and downs over the last few weeks, and they have to more consistent in this series if the Raptors want to win the championship. Toronto is scoring 104.9 points per game on 44.1% shooting from the field and 34.5% from beyond the arc, surrendering 99.6 points in a return on 41.7% shooting from the field and 31.3% from downtown.

Pick: Golden State Warriors -1.5 (-150)

The Raptors were huge underdogs against the Bucks, but they found the way to slow down the best team in the league in the regular season. However, playing against the Warriors in the NBA Finals is a completely different task, and the Raptors will have to continue with excellent defensive performance, but they will also need to be at their best at the offensive end. The Raptors coped well with the Bucks’ length, and they will have to adapt to the Warriors’ small-ball game which could be a problem.

It seems Kevin Durant’s injury is the biggest factor in this series. If he misses the rest of the postseason, the Raptors certainly stand a chance even though they are surely more tired than the Warriors who will have nine full days to recover. On the other hand, if KD returns in Game 3, I think the Warriors will retain the title. Golden State has more offensive weapons than Toronto, but the reigning champions can also play terrific defense. The Warriors have Andre Iguodala to match up with Kawhi at the defensive end, while Klay Thompson and Draymond Green both can cope with the Claw.

Hereof, I’m taking the Warriors to win the championship in six or fewer games, but I would like to see them without KD until the end of the series. However, I believe Durant will return at some point which could decide the winner. For those who want greater wages, the Warriors in six games are at +250 odds. If you fancy the Raptors’ chances against the wounded Warriors, Toronto in six is set at +1000 odds.

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