The NBA Finals are here. Tonight the world will witness the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors battle it out in Game 1.
The Warriors will be traveling up to Toronto but will be without both Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins who both are out with injury.
Durant was bounced earlier in the playoffs against the Rockets. He sustained a right calf injury on May 8. Cousins is listed as questionable. He has been out since the first round of the playoffs when he tore his left quadriceps.
OG Anuoby is listed as questionable for the Raptors for Game 1 after his appendectomy on April 12.
For the first time in a long time, the Warriors won’t be facing off against the LeBron James-led Cavaliers.
As a result, this matchup provides a lot of new possibilities for the Warriors to deal with. Most notably, the Raptors’ suffocating defense.
The Raptors have built up a great offense behind Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry. Leonard’s run in these playoffs has also been one of the better performances in recent memory.
The Raptors have shown throughout the playoffs that they have the necessary tools and clutch performances that they are able to take whatever is thrown at them.
Of course, the Warriors have a legendary offense. Their use of misdirection and off-ball screening combined with impeccable shooting has given them one of the most prolific offenses of all time. Led by Steph Curry the Warriors are cruising through the playoffs again. Their offense has been nearly unstoppable for the past several years.
As Curry chases the Finals MVP award there is no reason that he should be hitting a slump in these finals either.
There is not a whole lot left to say about how incredible the Warriors offense is. Though, it will be important for Curry to not fall into a slump if Durant is going to remain out for an extended period of time.
While Draymond Green has the foundation of their defense, the Warriors will look to him and some other options to help shut down the Raptors. In addition to Green, the Warriors will also look for players like Andre Iguodala to help in keeping Kawhi Leonard away from the ball.
However, the Warriors have had one of their worst defensive performances throughout the regular season. At times they look vulnerable. But, this is a championship team. The Warriors have been here before and are able to step it up when they need to.
If there is anything underrated, or not talked about as much, on the Warriors, it is their defense. That is to say, the Warriors have a defense that will be ready to take on the Raptors.
There is a very real chance that this series comes down to defense battles.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Raptors slowed Giannis Antetokounmpo and were able to show off their defense.
The Warriors will also have to learn how to slow down a red hot Kawhi Leonard. Leonard has had an incredible playoff run. At times he is seemingly unstoppable on both ends of the court. Combined with some other prolific weapons the Warriors will have to be ready to play intense defense for a full game.
The Raptors are smothering. The Warriors have not yet had to play such an intense defense yet. This could be a time for the Raptors to get ahead early and come out swinging.
So, this series will be an incredible defensive battle for both teams. The Raptors need to find a way to take down the Warriors legendary offense and the Warriors need to be prepared for the stifling pressure from the Raptors.
So, this series will come down to which teams defense is able to outlast the other.
What to expect
This game has the potential to be an all-timer. Both teams need to come out strong right from the start.
The Raptors are in desperate need of a win in this game. They can’t afford to let up for even a second. The Warriors have the experience though. They’ve been here before and those jitters and easy mistakes simply should not happen.
This game is going to be a battle to the end. Expect it to be close.
With the Raptors having the home court for Game 1 they should come away with the win though. The energy from the crowd and defensive intensity should be enough for them to win this game.
Raptors win 110-105.