GSW @ TOR
Game 1 Time: 8 PM (CT), ABC
Spread: TOR -1
Odds c/o 5dimes
The path the Golden State Warriors have taken to the NBA Finals in 2019 was not without obstacles. The thing is, not a single obstacle seemed to weaken the Warriors—not losing DeMarcus Cousins, not losing Kevin Durant, none of it. This team has reverted to the form it showed before it ever obtained the duo, namely that of a 73-win team guided by Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. With Durant out for Game 1 and Cousins listed as doubtful, it will be the same Dubs team that steamrolled the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals. Even so, the Warriors find itself 1-point underdogs in Game 1 as the Toronto Raptors host the opener of the Finals at 8 PM (CT) on ABC Thursday. The over/under is set at 214.5 points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes.
Golden State swept the Trail Blazers in the WCF, winning by an average of 9.5 points per game, including a 114-111 Game 4 win to conclude the series. The Warriors earned itself some rest, which only benefits this team as it has two injured stars. The thing is, many are contesting whether or not the team may be better off without Durant, and it is a notion not so crazy.
The subtraction of Durant has led to a more free-flowing offense with fewer isolation sets, and the result has been that every Warrior has looked better and more involved.
In the Warriors Game 4 victory, Stephen Curry shot 11 of 25 (including 7 of 16 from three) en route to 37 points, 11 assists, and 13 rebounds (four offensive). He posted a +3 mark for his 47 minutes of court time while limiting Damian Lillard to “only” 28 points and 12 assists. The Warriors shot 46.5 percent from the field while holding a +18 advantage on the boards, and a 12 to 15 difference in team turnovers. With the Warriors having shot just 30.8 percent from three-point range, the rebounding and defense proved to the difference-maker. The Warriors entered the fourth quarter down by four points but forced an OT period which it won 8-6 to close the series.
Curry has been sensational in the postseason, but he struggled in his only game against the Raptors this season, which came in a loss. He had just 10 points, three assists and three rebounds as the Raptors won by 20. In the playoffs this year, Curry is averaging 27.3 points, 5.6 assists, and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 45 percent from the floor and 39 percent from three. But Curry has scored 33 points or more in his last five outings, and he has averaged 6.5 assists per game over that span, as well. Durant’s absence has released Curry, and he could have his best Finals campaign yet in this series.
For the Raptors, the story is that of Kawhi Leonard and his two-way brilliance. Leonard is arguably the best player in the league, and that statement can be made more definitively after knocking out Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks from the Eastern Conference playoffs. Leonard is averaging 31.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.2 blocks/steals per game while posting a PER of 28.61. It would be an oversight to omit mention of Pascal Siakam, though. The likely Most Improved Player award winner has averaged 18.7 points, seven rebounds, two assists and 1.9 steal/blocks per game. He has unarguably been the Raptors second-best player in this postseason, and the pairing of Leonard/Siakam has given every opponent thus far trouble. Even the Warriors may have trouble matching up with that 3/4 tandem without Durant available. The question is whether the Raptors’ frontcourt advantages are enough to make up for the backcourt deficit where Kyle Lowry and Danny Green are so clearly outclassed by the “Splash Brothers.”
Offhand, the answer would seem to be no, but the Raptors do have home court advantage, as well.
While we do like the Warriors to emerge with yet another title, this series does offer sufficient intrigue and will not likely be a sweep as some have already boldly claimed it will be.
Prediction: Warriors in 5