May 30, 2019
By Frank Ammirante
2018-19 Golden State Warriors & Toronto Raptors Season Series Recap
Nov. 29, 2018: Warriors 128, Raptors 131
Dec. 12, 2018: Raptors 113, Warriors 93
NBA Finals Series Matchups
Starting Lineups & Bench
Golden State Warriors
PG- Stephen Curry/Quinn Cook
SG- Klay Thompson/Shaun Livingston
SF- Draymond Green/Andre Iguodala
PF- Alfonso McKinnie/Jonas Jerebko
C- Jordan Bell/Kevon Looney/Andrew Bogut
INJURIES: Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins
PG- Kyle Lowry/Fred Van Vleet
SG- Danny Green/Norm Powell
SF- Kawhi Leonard
PF- Pascal Siakam
C- Marc Gasol/Serge Ibaka
INJURIES: OG Anunoby
Golden State Warriors Preview
The Warriors have gone 5-0 since Kevin Durant suffered a calf strain in Game 5 against the Houston Rockets. KD’s injury has forced head coach Steve Kerr to adjust by returning to the free-flowing offense that characterized these Warriors in the pre-Durant years. Stephen Curry has caught fire during this streak, averaging 35.8 PPG on 46.5 FG% (54-116) and 47.2 3PT% (34-72) with an average of 6 3PTs per game. Draymond Green has also stepped up, averaging 14.8 PPG, 11.4 RPG, and 8.4 APG with triple-doubles in his last 2 games. Pick-and-rolls between Curry and Green are once again a staple of the Golden State offense. Klay Thompson will have some big opportunities in this series as the Raptors try to key in on Curry and Green.
During this stretch, the Warriors’ defense has also played very well, holding opponents under 100 points in 2 out of the 5 games.They will have to continue this strong play to help slow down Kawhi Leonard.
DeMarcus Cousins is questionable for Game 1, but even if he returns, he will likely be coming off the bench as a scoring option. He has not played since April 15th, so coach Kerr will be wary about re-inserting Boogie into the starting lineup because it could potentially disrupt the rhythm that the team has developed in recent games.
While there is no timetable for Kevin Durant’s return, he has still travelled to Toronto for Game 1 and I fully expect the Warriors’ superstar to suit up in this series at some point. Golden State is really going to need Durant to beat these Raptors.
Toronto Raptors Preview
The Raptors have been carried by Kawhi Leonard throughout this postseason. The Klaw has averaged 31.2 PPG on 50.7 FG% and 38.8 3PT% to go along with elite defense in what’s been a truly historic run. Kawhi has also done a great job finding his teammates, particularly in Game 5 and 6 of the Conference Finals vs. Milwaukee, where he averaged 8 APG in the two victories. He will need to keep finding his teammates if Toronto is to beat the Warriors.
Kyle Lowry, Fred Van Vleet, and Norm Powell had a great series vs. the Bucks. The team will need this continued strong production from the supporting cast. I think that 3 players on the Raptors are x-factors for them in this series: Pascal Siakam, Danny Green, and Serge Ibaka.
Siakam has struggled recently, shooting 27/76 (35.5%) from the field in the last 5 games. Toronto needs him to attack the basket and the opportunities will be there since Golden State does not have any rim protectors on the levels of Giannis or Embiid. Siakam is also a versatile defender that should help against the Warriors’ stars.
Danny Green has been in a shooting slump throughout the playoffs, hitting only 32.5% from the field and 31.4% from distance. Green has only hit 1 of his last 15 3PT attempts (6.6%). The Raptors will need him to find his shooting stroke. Green has always been a great shooter and I expect him to bust out of his slump in this series.
Ibaka will need to give the Raptors more quality minutes, because when the Warriors go small, Toronto will need to rely on Serge’s athleticism since Gasol will have difficulties keeping up. The only logical matchup for Gasol is with DeMarcus Cousins and Boogie will likely be used sparingly throughout this series. Therefore, it is imperative that Ibaka knocks down his open looks and provides good help D.
And The Verdict Is…
Raptors in 7 – The Warriors have not faced a defense as formidable as the one in Toronto. The Raptors have done a great job slowing down premier offensive teams like the Bucks and Sixers. Let’s not forget that back in 2017, Kawhi and the Spurs were up 20+ points in Game 1 of the Conference Finals vs. these very Warriors. Leonard is the perfect player to have on your team when going up against a superteam like this. Add in the fact that KD is out for at least the early stages of the series, which is huge since coach Nurse can use Kawhi on any other Warrior. The Raptors also have homecourt advantage, which might be the deciding factor here. This looks like a team of destiny that is ready to shock the world.
NBA Finals GM #1 On www.statementgames.com – My Top 3 Picks!
10 Point Pick: Draymond Green will not have a Triple Double
Green has been a beast without Durant, but getting a triple double is very difficult. I’ll play the percentages here.
9 Point Pick: Klay Thompson OVER 24.5 points
The Raptors are going to key in on Curry and Green, leaving Klay with opportunities to do some damage.
8 Point Pick: Pascal Siakam OVER 21.5 points
I think that Siakam is set for a huge series. It’s going to be a coming out party for him.