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NBA Finals Preview: No Looney, no Durant will test Warriors as they host Raptors in critical game three.

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More banged up than ever, can Golden State find a way to pull out yet another short-handed win?

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NBA: Finals-Golden State Warriors at Toronto Raptors

Kevon Looney is done for the season, Kevin Durant is still recovering from a calf injury, and Klay Thompson is questionable. Apparently the Chinese word for “crisis” is not actually composed of elements that signify “danger” and “opportunity”, but you get the idea here as we watch Golden State’s roster shrink further and further.

Like the yoga pants of the NBA season, the playoffs reveal a lot about teams. The Warriors recent playoff success hasn’t been defined by missing Kevin Durant, so much as it’s been defined by the guys they do have left stepping up under the brightest lights - and those lights are getting brighter as a shrinking team is asked to do it yet again.

In order to pull out a win over the Toronto Raptors as the series swings back to Oakland even at one win each, the Warriors are going to need significant contributions from everyone left healthy. The Raptors, meanwhile, are going to come in with maximum effort. Stealing a game at Oracle is going to be mandatory, and tonight is probably their best chance.

Injuries galore

The big new heartbreak is Kevon Looney. After being sent sprawling from a Kawhi Leonard shoulder, the impending free agent fell awkwardly. Diagnosis: a cartilage fracture that will end his 2019 playoff run.

I cannot emphasize how deeply this sucks. Like findings plastic in the deepest trenches of the ocean level of crappy.

Kevin Durant is still out as well. He did not participate in practice yesterday (which also cancels his media availability), and the general consensus is that it means he’s out for sure. Looking ahead, this could mean anything. So get your Tarot cards out and let me know if Durant sat because of a set back, or if this is perhaps maximizing rest, assuming a game 4 return is being pushed for.

Klay Thompson is the most uncertain. He did practice, and was out running around and putting up shots in front of the media. Generally, the team will put up a curtain wall for players who are not close to coming back - so this is good news. Also, Brian Witt (the guy who coined “Splash Brothers” while working for the team tweeted out definitively that Klay is playing, so there’s that too. On the other hand, hamstring injuries are tricky - Thompson is currently listed as questionable.

Courtesy of our intrepid Finals reporter, Eric Apricot, here’s Klay’s answer when asked for an update on where he’s at physically:

If there’s any pain, it will be a no-go just because of the position we’re in. This could be a longer series, so there’s no point in trying to go out there and re-aggravate it and potentially keep myself out of the whole entire Finals instead of just one game.

So like I said, it will be a game-time decision. But I really want to be out there.

Me too Klay. Me too.

How have the Warriors survived? And can they do it again?

In game 2, they discovered their old 3rd quarter magic. As per Shane Young, check out the outrageous dominance on both ends of the court:

In the third quarter alone, the Warriors scored 34 points on 27 possessions — a 125.9 offensive rating. They held Toronto to just 21 points on 29 possessions (72.4 offensive rating).

They needed that 20-0 run, which coincidentally set another record - but you know what? They had it. Though the margins for error are slim, this is a team that has proven themselves in the crucible.

Stephen Curry ended game 2 by throwing a stumbling pass. That critical pass is barely snared by Shaun Livingston, who swung it quickly to Andre Iguodala for the game winning bucket - a cold-blooded knockdown from deep. But also a play that was inches from going all wrong, multiple times. Even the most successful rock climbers are sometimes barely holding on with their fingertips though, this isn’t supposed to be easy.

If this Warriors team is as stacked as they say, then perhaps they can survive all these injuries. Losing Kevin Durant in itself is a major obstacle. But the Warriors pushed through on a very Warriors combination of star power and timely, heady plays from key contributors.

Losing Durant, Kevon Looney (the most reliable bench player in the playoffs), as well as possibly Klay Thompson is almost laughably cruel. But it could also be just one more hurdle the champions have overcome.

Stephen Curry is the best offensive weapon in this series, and Toronto pulled out a gimmick “Box 1” defense trying to slow him down. It worked a little, but it will be interesting to see if this is something the Raptors go back to since the Warriors cutting and passing ability should be able to make mincemeat out of that interior zone coverage. In the final four and a half minutes of game two though, the Warriors only managed to convert on one of their final nine possessions, as per Shane Young. I’d be more concerned but the consensus is that zone coverage should be easy for an NBA to break. Also, the one time the Warriors scored against it? That wild Iguodala game winning play.

In addition to Cousins, watch for Draymond Green in particular to step up his already stellar performance. After singling himself out, he shut down Pascal Siakam in game 2. Without Looney, and Klay on a gimpy leg, expect Green to put it on himself to attempt to pick up some of that slack.

Prediction

This is going to be a tough challenge, but one I believe the Warriors are up for. They still can’t stop Curry, and the Looney injury just gives DeMarcus Cousins a bigger opportunity to boogie.

Warriors win another tight one. 108-105.

GAME DETAILS

Who: Golden State Warriors vs. Toronto Raptors (Series tied at 1-1)

When: Wednesday June 5th, 2019 at 6:00pm PST

Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California

TV: ABC

Line: Warriors -5.5, o/u 213.5

Injuries: Kawhi Leonard (knee) is probable and OG Anunoby (appendix) is questionable for the Raptors.

Klay Thompson (hamstring) and Kevin Durant (calf) are questionable and Kevon Looney is out for the Warriors.