Two weeks ago, the Raptors were sitting in an 0-2 hole against the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals. Five victories later, Toronto is fresh off its first ever win in the NBA Finals as the Raptors lead the two-time defending champion Warriors, 1-0 following an impressive 118-109 triumph in Game 1.
The Warriors lost an NBA Finals opener for the first time under Steve Kerr in five tries, which coincides with Golden State not owning home-court advantage for the first time in this stretch. Toronto used the energy of its fans (even Drake) at Scotiabank Arena to improve to 9-2 at home in the playoffs. The most shocking part of Game 1 was the Raptors didn’t have to lean on star Kawhi Leonard to carry them to victory.
Leonard is averaging 30.7 points per game in the playoffs, but converted only five field goals in 14 attempts and posted 23 points in his first NBA Finals appearance since 2014. The real star for Toronto was Pascal Siakam, who knocked down 14-of-17 shots from the floor for 32 points, a playoff career high. Siakam put up a total of 32 points in the final two games of the Milwaukee series, but his efficient evening helped contribute to Toronto shooting nearly 51% from the floor.
The Raptors also received solid outings from Marc Gasol and Fred VanVleet, who combined for 35 points, helping overcome the 18 total points from the starting backcourt of Kyle Lowryand Danny Green. Toronto helped itself at the foul line by shooting 27-of-32, while outscoring Golden State in three of four quarters.
The Warriors continued to play without Kevin Durant, who is expected to miss Game 2 with a lingering calf injury and there is not timetable for his return. Stephen Curry led all scorers with 34 points, including 14 points from the foul line. Klay Thompson posted 21 points, while Draymond Green compiled another triple-double with exactly 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. Six other Warriors scored at least six points, but none of them hit double-figures as Golden State saw its 12-game winning streak in playoff openers snapped.
The ‘over’ (212 ½) connected in Game 1 as the teams combined for 227 points. The oddsmakers sent out a total of 215 for the second installment and Chris David of VegasInsider.com offered up his thoughts and handicap for Sunday’s total.
He said, “The ‘under’ looked like the right side early in the opener as the Toronto led 25-21 after the first 12 minutes but that false hope faded quickly. The pace wasn’t fast by any stretch as Golden State and Toronto attempted 78 and 77 shots respectively. However, the pair did combine for 25 three-pointers and the ultimate ‘under’ killer was 56 made free throws on 63 attempts by the two teams. Most of the fouls were deserving and you could argue that Golden State (29-of-31) probably should’ve taken more. Handicapping the free throw game in basketball is similar to forecasting for penalties in football, impossible! With that being said, I’d be surprised to see both teams earn 30-plus attempts at the charity stripe on Sunday.”
Including Thursday’s result, Golden State has now watched the ‘over’ go 7-2 on the road in the playoffs while Toronto is 6-5 to the ‘under’ at home but three of the last four at the Scotiabank Arena have gone ‘over’ the number.
David dug up some other numbers for Sunday, which focuses on Golden State’s ability to rebound after defeats.
“Since the All-Star break, Golden State has gone 11-2 after a loss and it’s averaged 118 PPG. That includes a 3-1 record in this year’s playoffs. While many bettors would run to the counter and push the ‘over’ agenda, make a note that the ‘under’ has gone 9-4 in those 13 games and those results point directly to Golden State’s defense which has only allowed 106.1 PPG. Knowing that Toronto has been much better offensively at home (108 PPG) in the playoffs than on the road (101 PPG), you might be hesitant to go against the hosts on Sunday.”
“While the home energy has certainly helped the Raptors, I don’t see Toronto shooting 50 percent from the field again and I believe the free throw numbers will temper down. Toronto’s Team Total is hovering at 108 ½ for Game 2 and it’s only surpassed this number six times in 19 playoff games. I expect the Raptors to try to muck it up again but I’m not buying their offense again,” David added.
From 2009-2015, the team that lost Game 1 came back to win Game 2 of the NBA Finals. However, the winner of Game 1 each of the past three seasons (Golden State) has gone up 2-0 with victories in Game 2. The last team to win Game 2 following a series opening loss in the Finals is Cleveland, who edged Golden State in overtime back in 2015, but they ended up losing the series in six games.