What a game! This matchup was essentially two six-minute intervals of both teams playing at a high-tempo, trading baskets, sandwiching two enormous runs in the second for the Warriors and the early fourth for the Raptors. Read on for a quarter-by-quarter breakdown for what was easily one of the most entertaining, if not nerve-wracking, games of the year.
In the opening quarter, the Toronto Raptors put up 35 points behind DeMar Derozan’s 19, and still found themselves down eight to a red-hot Golden State Warriors. The Dubs would open shooting 74% from the field with 12 assists and 0 turnovers. After a cold shooting night in Milwaukee, Klay Thompson opened the game with a determination to get buckets, and once he caught fire, he would not cool down — finishing the game with a Warriors’ high 27 points.
Draymond Green has continued to play impressively on both ends. While the DPOY’s versatility defensively is always something to be heralded, it was his offensive versatility in the first quarter that was most impressive, scoring from beyond the arc and finishing strong, while also going to the line.
It was DeMar DeRozan who stole the show in the first, abusing Kevon Looney in the pick-and-roll and displaying his ability to get to the line at will. DeRozan has had the best season of his career and has adjusted his game to include more threes and fewer mid-range shots, reflective of league-wide shifts in offenses.
1st Quarter Final Score: 43-35
“Display of basketball perfection,” said Warriors color commentator Jim Barnett after a Kevin Durant dunk that put the Dubs at 75 points with 1:43 remaining the second quarter. The Warriors would score six more points en route to a historic 81-point half against the fourth-rated defense in the league. They would shoot 71.1% from the field, with 22 assists and only 1 turnover.
Everything was clicking for the visiting Warriors and it started with another impressive outing from the bench unit, who contributed 22 points in the first half. David West is having an outstanding season for any bench big, especially one who is 37. He is a technician in every sense of the word, conserving energy by eliminating unnecessary movement on either end of the floor, and putting on a Roger Federer-esque display of precision and expertise accumulated over the course of a prolific career. Though precedent and certain statistical qualifiers, like minutes per game, disqualify him, West should be in the Sixth Man of the Year discussion, if for no other reason than as an intellectual exercise.
Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry were re-inserted into the game with 4:40 left in the game and the Warriors up 67-49, which must be particularly demoralizing for the Raptors, who were already on the wrong end of a quarter-long run. The Dubs would finish the quarter on a 14-to-5 run after the two MVPs came off the bench.
2nd Quarter Final Score: 81-54
The third quarter marked a pendulum shift in the game towards the home team as the Warriors’ hot shooting cooled a bit and the Raptors showed relentless determination to get to the line. The Toronto fans, who had largely been quiet during a one-sided first half, woke up with a surging Raptors’ run that put Toronto within single digits after being down as much as 27.
Kevin Durant would be a critical stabilizer, hitting two back-to-back “silencer” threes that maintained some separation between the teams. But it was Stephen Curry who aggressively tracked down rebounds and looked to get his teammates involved. Case in point: Steph would secure a rebound and race up to the floor, willing himself to the line with five seconds left in the quarter. Despite still finishing the quarter with a 19-point lead, the air in the stadium had clearly shifted, and the Warriors would have to guard their shrinking lead against a rejuvenated Raptor team.
3rd Quarter Final Score: 108-89
The definition of a nail-biter, the game was hung in the balance down the very last seconds. This quarter saw Toronto build on its third-quarter energy to finally close the gap against the Warriors, completely erasing the 27-point lead at the half and any semblance of momentum from a historic Dubs’ first half. Ultimately, the game came down to Stephen Curry making one of two free-throws, which is, in most cases, a done deal, but a previous empty trip by the MVP added a layer of drama to the situation. Fred Van Vleet would splash a “cosmetic three” to put the Raptors down just two as time expired.
Kevin Durant was the Warriors’ savior in the fourth, as he knocked down tough shots while also guarding the prolific DeRozan who would finish the night with a game-high 42 points. Steve Kerr would practice a quick-hook with the fifth member of the lineup, leaving Kevon Looney in for an extended time, then bringing in West to presumably close the last three minutes. West had a difficult stretch, and Kerr ultimately made the decision to go back to Looney for the critical 30 seconds. Though the execution to end the game was not ideal by any measure, the Warriors should be extremely pleased to escape with a win. This game was the second night of a back-to-back, coincidentally the third game in four nights, against a team that has only lost two games at home all year.
4th Quarter Final Score: 127-125
Who was the Warriors Wonder in the Raptors win?
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Oh, you thought I forgot? STEPH CURRY!!!!!!