The Golden State Warriors are fresh off of a big win against the Memphis Grizzlies and are looking to get a win streak going to find some momentum. Meanwhile the Toronto Raptors have won two straight, but are struggling in the Eastern Conference where they are currently the 12th seed.
Isn’t it crazy that it was just in 2019 that these two teams were battling tooth and nail in the NBA Finals for a championship?
Golden State Warriors vs Toronto Raptors
January 27th, 2023 | 7:00 PT
Watch: NBA TV, NBC Sports Bay Area | Listen: 95.7 The Game
There has certainly been a lot said about Golden State’s lackluster record as they attempt to win back-to-back titles and their fifth in the last 10 years. Road record? Abysmal. Depth chart continuity? Inconsistent due to injuries and developmental tactics. Clutch time performances? By and large unsatisfactory.
But when we zoom out and take a look at what their challenge is as currently constituted, it makes me marvel at the grand idea. Win now and win later is usually impossible, with only the San Antonio Spurs dynasty of old truly mastering it. The transition from David Robinson to Tim Duncan to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to Kawhi Leonard was a beautiful narrative. Until Leonard demanded out and killed the final remnants of that empire.
Funny enough, it was in Toronto that Leonard reasserted himself as a superstar when he led the Raptors to their only championship in franchise history. They knocked off the Warriors to do so, and then haven’t done much since then.
Since that magical championship run, they’ve been bounced out of the second round of the payoffs in their title defense, missed the postseason the year after that, before falling in the first round last season to the Philadelphia 76ers. Key vets like Leonard and Kyle Lowry are long gone, while younger hoopers like Pascal Siakim and Fred Van Vleet try to synergize with developing lottery prospect Scottie Barnes.
I bookmarked this tweet from December as a marker point for the Raptors season.
The Raptors are in Blow It Up territory— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) December 19, 2022
-13-17 record, losers of 5 straight
-The team looks broken
-No realistic path to contention
-Only 3.5 back from the bottom 4
-Veterans they could get a haul for
-Young talent to build with, making it more of a retool and not a long rebuild pic.twitter.com/QEmfLKHZjz
Since then, Toronto has stumbled to a 22-27 record. Their trademark stingy defense has left them, as they are ranked 16th in the league in defensive rating (one spot above these maddening Warriors). They built a roster around players with size and athleticism, but their defense hasn’t utilized those factors well.
Same core philosophies. Same core personnel. Same core formula for winning games. The only thing that's changed is the results.— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) January 24, 2023
Inside the Raptors' defensive struggles this year:https://t.co/TLCuL0Quv5
Toronto’s experience should be a great reminder to Dub Nation that what the reigning defending champion Warriors have done and are attempting to do is damn near impossible in the NBA. But when did the odds ever matter to a team led by the Splash Bros and Draymond Green?