Here’s a really bad talking point that you’re going to hear in the upcoming days: the Toronto Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors twice during the regular season so the 2019 NBA Finals should be really interesting!
I wish this was merely a straw man argument that I was just making up for the sake of having a premise to write about, but check the Twitter chatter for yourself — it’s just about the only argument in favor of the Raptors winning, aside from the fact that Kawhi Leonard torched the Warriors for a half as a member of the San Antonio Spurs back in the 2017 NBA playoffs.
Yet for the sake of killing time before Game 1 on Thursday, let’s just run through three reasons why the regular season doesn’t matter.
The Warriors weren’t at full strength
Raptors fans: “rEmEmBeR wE WoN 2-0 iN tHe ReGuLAr sEaSoN vS tHE wArrIOrS, RaPs iN fIVe”— GALAXY OPAL GIANNIS (@OpalGiannis) May 26, 2019
The warriors in those games: pic.twitter.com/mbMP0w9wWc
Unlike the Houston Rockets, the Warriors are a no-excuses basketball team so we’re not going to make excuses for losses during the regular season due to injuries. However, given that Steph Curry was out for one game, Andre Iguodala out for another, and DeMarcus Cousins out for both those regular season results have to be taken with a grain of salt.
Now, in fairness, Leonard was out for the first game when the Raptors smacked the Warriors by 20 and Norman Powell was out for both games. And that’s not to mention the significant mid-season additions made by both teams (sorry, Pat McCaw): the Raptors added starting center Marc Gasol mid-season and the Warriors brought sometimes-starter Andrew Bogut back to the roster. On the other hand, O.G. Anunoby’s status for the Finals is still in doubt —he played significant minutes off the bench in those two regular season games.
Per sources, the Raptors are quietly optimistic that they’ll get OG Anunoby back at some point vs. Warriors in the NBA Finals. They don’t know for sure, but spacing of games should help. Also long breaks between most games helps Kawhi quite a bit.— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) May 26, 2019
So feel free to try reading into all of that to draw conclusions about what the regular season results meant ... but ... I just can’t.
But the Raptors have homecourt advantage!
True! But I’m not even going to bother spending any more words on that — just watch the video below of the last team that believed homecourt would matter.
But can they do it without Kevin Durant?
I am among those who possesses the common sense to know that any team in the universe — yes, including the Monstars — is better with Kevin Durant than without. So yes, the Warriors could use him.
But I also just watched the Warriors beat the Rockets without Durant and sweep the Portland Trail Blazers without him — they are still a very good team and have a chance to prove that they are in fact still the best team even without Durant.
Additionally, DeMarcus Cousins is possibly coming back for the Finals, according to multiple media reports ... and if you think that doesn’t make a difference against a team with a better frontcourt than the Warriors’ previous postseason opponents, then I’m not sure what to tell you.
Conclusion: Believe in the champs
So let’s just summarize this discussion with a lightning round of short answer questions
And ... hmmm ... no.
The schedule for the actual games that will be played is below — Thursday can’t come soon enough so we can end all this pointless chatter.
Full 2019 NBA Finals schedule (from NBA.com)
Game 1: Thur, May 30, Golden State at Toronto | 6 PT (ABC)
Game 2: Sun, June 2, Golden State at Toronto | 5 PT (ABC)
Game 3: Wed, June 5, Toronto at Golden State | 6 PT (ABC)
Game 4: Fri, June 7, Toronto at Golden State | 6 PT (ABC)
*Game 5: Mon, June 10, Golden State at Toronto | 6 PT (ABC)
*Game 6: Thur, June 13, Toronto at Golden State | 6 PT (ABC)
*Game 7: Sun, June 16, Golden State at Toronto | 5 PT (ABC)
(* = If necessary)