The Toronto Raptors were favourites heading to Oracle Arena (not many can say that) with Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Kevon Looney all absent. All of Toronto’s starters shot 50% or better from the field, Danny Green knocked down six of his 10 three-pointers and Serge Ibaka had six blocked shots.
The Raptors’ performance was about as good as they could have hoped for. They needed to take this game, the psychological damage if they had lost to a heavily depleted Warriors might have signalled the end of the series. Even with Kawhi Leonard not at his dominant best (he still got 30 points), Toronto cruised to victory. They kept their nerve as Golden State rallied, hitting big shots whenever required.
Though they led for much of the game, Toronto were put under pressure by the Warriors, and particularly Curry. Unlike Game Two, they were not rattled, their offence kept calm and the defence was superb.
In their first ever NBA Finals, the Raptors are two games away from a title.
Winning two games against the Game Three Warriors seems almost certain. Without Thompson and Durant, Golden State’s scoring options were extremely limited. Curry needs to be that good for them to stand a chance.
In Curry, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins, Steve Kerr still had three All-Stars at his disposal. It might not sound like a crisis, but this isn’t an All-Star version of Cousins, and this version of Green is not a scoring threat (though he hustled his way to 17 points on 14 shots).
While few in Toronto will care, it would be a shame for the Finals to be decided by injuries. It might not signal the end of the dynasty (who knows where Durant will be in three months’ time), but it would be a significant moment regardless of what happens in 2020 and beyond.
The Raptors are favourites to win the title, and so they should be. They lead the series and Golden State are horribly depleted. This season, though, for a neutral, deserves a better ending than this. The return of Durant and/or Thompson will change the whole feeling around these NBA Finals. It will, at the very least, make it competitive, which we risk losing if Curry is left the lone Warriors offensive force.