In predicting the Warriors to win these Finals in six games, we came in expecting some losses. Game one was just such an occurrence. On the strength of Pascal Siakam (Spicy P, as the kids call him) and Kawhi Leonard, Toronto was just a little too much for Golden State, who will enter the game once again as underdogs.
Regrouped and focused, the Warriors are heading back to the hostile confines of the North to confront Drake and the actual basketball team - both of which were somewhat disrespectful and not at all intimidated by the two-time defending champs.
Where was the damage done?
Let’s start with the obvious: Pascal Siakam’s 32-point scoring output ( on a disgustingly efficient 14-for-17 shooting) was a problem. Draymond Green would seem to hold primary responsibility, and as transcribed by The Athletic, Green will be doing his homework now, hoping to do a better job of slowing down the The 6-foot-9 Raptors forward:
“...I have never seen this guy. So I have to get a feel for him and how to attack. That was good because now I have something to watch. And teams guard so much different than we guard, you can’t get as good a feel from watching what other teams have done.”
While there are some adjustments to be made in coverage, simple effort seems to be the first switch to flip. From our own Joe Viray, watch the lackadaisical effort in transition here:
Green must be able to figure this out. His ability to shut down potent threats has been of paramount importance during the Warriors’ rise. From Blake Griffin, to Anthony David, to Marc Gasol, it has been Green who was tasked with becoming the answer.
Next up, Kawhi Leonard. Though a surprise to none, it’s worth noting that his performance was somewhat contained - just 23 points (but on an efficient 14 shot attempts) - but the containment process opened the Warriors up to a lot of other problems.
Most notably, Marc Gasol got a ton of wide open looks from deep. He scored eight of his 20 points in the first quarter, and if I recall correctly, every single one of them was a wide open warm up jump shot. In a game of tantamount importance, and operating short handed without Durant, Golden State is going to have to focus on tightening up their rotations to cover the perimeter shooters, while (hopefully) not sacrificing too much defense against Leonard.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; Warriors have mixed results to build from
Stephen Curry had a good game one. 34 efficient points, to go along with five assists and five rebounds. It wasn’t enough, of course, but Curry was able to establish that he can operate effectively against Toronto’s impressive defense.
The Warriors will need that again... and more.
Klay Thompson was bad. 21 points (and not much else) on an inefficient 17 shot attempts isn’t going to cut it. Especially without Durant, the team will need more from Thompson on both ends. Offensively, it’s safe to assume that those shots will start to fall - though Danny Green’s long-armed defense may have something to say about that.
Never much of an assist provider, or a rebounder, Thompson’s calling card is defense. Against the Raptors on game one though, Thompson said he was going to have to adjust to the ball-movement involved in the Raptors offensive attack. From The Athletic:
“It’s much different,” Thompson said. “They don’t play as much 1-on-1 as the past couple rounds. Kawhi is great at it, but they really move the ball well and always try to find that extra man. So our defensive rotations have to be a little tighter, a little faster tomorrow, because we gave them too many naked looks.”
Now, the ugly part: injuries.
Andre Iguodala pulled up lame after elevating to put in a little jump hook towards the end of game one. Though the MRI came back clean, and he’s listed as eligible to participate, it’s hard not to worry about yet another injury on top of everything the Warriors are dealing with already.
Durant looks extremely ginger still, my guess is that game 3 is much more of s tretch goal than an honest prediction. Here he is on Saturday. Watch how he’s not jumping on those ‘shots’ and how carefully he steps using his favored leg. This (to me) does not seem like a guy who is on the cusp of reemerging.
KD UPDATE: @KDTrey5 showed up to practice today in his usual sideline gear. Black hoody, @whitesox cap, and slides. Did light shooting and dribbling. Otherwise he could be back midway through series. #WeTheNorth #DubNation #NBA #KevinDurant #Warriors #Toronto #NBAFinals2019 pic.twitter.com/CiTYIVsqcG— Jonathan Choe Journalist (@choeshow) June 1, 2019
DeMarcus Cousins made a surprisingly quick return though. And while his performance in game one was pedestrian (3 points, 2 assists, and 2 steals in about 8 minutes of action), his mundane contributions were something. The fact that he’s even out there and it isn’t a disaster is a positive sign for the Warriors - who will be searching for a big man to step up and answer the Siakam/Gasol/Ibaka frontcourt employed by Toronto.
The Warriors have had their back pressed up against the wall much more firmly than this, but falling down 0-2 to a powerful Raptors team, without any guarantee of Durant’s return is ... less than ideal.
Like Klay Thompson said after game one: “It’s first to four, not first to one. So, still a lot of basketball to be played.”
Dubs came in looking for a split in Toronto, will get one. Warriors 109 - Raptors 105.