Last Updated: 2019-06-01
The Toronto Raptors took the 2019 NBA Finals opener, beating the reigning champions Golden State Warriors 118-109 as 1.5-point home favorites on Thursday night. It was the Raptors’ third straight victory over the Warriors this season, and the Eastern Conference champs will try to extend their streak Sunday night when they welcome Golden State in Game 2 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada. The Warriors had a bad day in the office in the opening clash of the series and will look to drastically improve their performance even though they are struggling with injuries.
Golden State will miss Kevin Durant who’s still recovering from a calf injury, and KD’s absence was a huge problem for the Warriors in Game 1 when they struggled against the Raptors’ defense. Andre Iguodala aggravated his leg injury on Thursday, but he’s expected to play Sunday night. DeMarcus Cousins returned from his quad injury and was a non-factor in eight minutes on the floor in Game 1. On the other side, the Raptors can count on all their guys including OG Anunoby (appendectomy) who’s recovered and could get some minutes.
The Raptors opened as 2-point favorites with the total at 215.0 points and the Warriors at +115 money line odds. Toronto is 5-1 straight up and 4-2 ATS in its last six outings as a fave, while the Warriors are 5-2 straight up and ATS in their last seven showings as underdogs.
What’s at Stake?
Toronto has a great opportunity to take a commanding lead in this series while Kevin Durant is still sidelined for the Warriors. On the other side, the reigning champions will be in big trouble if they drop another game because only four teams have overcome a 2-0 deficit in the NBA Finals to win the championship.
This is the first-ever NBA Finals appearance for the Raptors, but they showed no fear in Game 1. The Raptors are riding a five-game winning streak, looking confident in the opening game of this series following a huge comeback in the conference finals. On the other side, the Warriors are playing their fifth straight NBA Finals, but they are trailing 1-0 for the first time in that span.
As I’ve mentioned in Game 1 preview, the key factor for the Raptors’ eventual success will be their defense, and the Raptors put on a terrific defensive performance on Thursday. They limited the Warriors on 43.6% shooting from the field, allowing just 32 points in the paint while forcing 17 turnovers. The Raptors are allowing just 100.1 points per game this postseason and need to continue with an excellent defensive effort.
On the other side, the Raptors made 50.6% of their field goals, scoring 40 points in the paint and turning the ball over just ten times. Kawhi Leonard scored 23 points on poor 5-of-14 shooting from the field, but the other guys stepped up offensively, especially Pascal Siakam who dropped 32 points on 14-of-17 shooting from the field while hitting 11 straight field goals. Marc Gasol posted 20 points and seven rebounds, while Fred VanVleet added 15 points off the bench. Kyle Lowry had just seven points on 2-of-9 shooting, but the veteran guard was a real floor general with nine assists.
Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 34 points, five boards, and five assists. Klay Thompson had 21 points, but the Splash Brothers need more help from their teammates to beat this Toronto team. Draymond Green posted a triple-double with ten points, ten boards, and ten dimes, but he also had six turnovers and was poor at the defensive end. The Warriors played awful defense in Game 1, allowing 24 fast break points, and will have to do a much better job in Game 2. They allowed 124.0 points per game in five losses this postseason.
While the Warriors need better defense, their role players have to step up offensively in Game 2. The Raptors’ aggressiveness and physicality caused plenty of problems for the Warriors’ offense, and Steph Curry cannot win this series on his own.
I’ve got burned in Game 1, backing the Warriors to win, but I will stick with the defending champions on this one. They were really poor defensively, and I think they will improve a lot on Sunday night. Also, the Warriors lost all their three meetings with the Raptors this season and should finally find the way to the victory. I expect a tight game down the stretch, so I’m backing the Warriors to cover. The Raptors had a good shooting night on Thursday, but it could easily change with more pressure from the Warriors’ D.
When it comes to the totals, the opening contest was finished in the over, and once again, the Warriors’ defense was a decisive factor that led to a high-scoring affair. I will take the under, expecting the Warriors’ to slow down the Raptors’ offense and do a better job in transition defense that was terrible in Game 1.
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