There’s seems to be a lot of excitement around Toronto’s 118-109 game one win over Golden State. Some of the excitement is justified. It was the first NBA Finals game outside of the United States. Toronto has become one of the rising NBA cities in the league. The Raptors serve as somewhat of a national team for Canada especially once the Vancouver Grizzlies moved to Memphis.
But, lets slow the roll on acting like the Raptors won the NBA title. Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors will make several adjustments one being how they deal with the Raptors aggressive play on Steph Curry. On the surface, Curry’s 34 points would make you think the strategy didn’t work but that’s not the case. By forcing Curry to play the way he played, it took away from the complimentary players getting the ball in the spots they like to get the ball. It played a part in Draymond Green’s 2-9 shooting.
The simple fix would be for Green to hit the open shots he has but the Warriors could also scheme ways for him to get the ball in a position where he can go downhill.
Defensively, the Warriors did a good job on making Kawhi Leonard work for everything he gets. Leonard wearing down has been a topic for discussion during the playoffs but the NBA Finals has so many off days, he should be able to recover. But making things difficult for him on the offensive end should pay off dividends for Golden State. The Raptors role players picked up the slack but you expect that when you’re the home team. Forcing the role players to make the same plays in Oakland might garner different results.
Plus, can the Raptors realistically expect for Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol to combine for 52 points on 20-27 shooting again? It can be argued that if Leonard plays better, Toronto won’t need this type of night every night but they’ll need to be close to this. Siakam will be met with more intensity going forward. Not only will Green play him differently but expect Golden State’s rotations to be more aggressive.
Though the Warriors didn’t close out particularly well all night, they should be able to live with Gasol’s outside jumpers. It would be better if Gasol took those shots than become a facilitator where he can be really dangerous.
Both teams like the push pace so expect Golden State to prepare better for the Raptors run-outs off made and missed baskets.
All in all, this was a typical first game of the NBA Finals. One where no one took home a trophy.