For the first time in NBA history a Finals game was played outside of the United States. It was, indeed, a historic event for the Toronto Raptors but a game I’m happy to forget for the thoroughly unimpressive Golden State Warriors. While there were moments of great gamesmanship the 16 turnovers and a lack of defensive intensity and focus were the highlights. They went down swinging, which is worthy to note, but the Raptors clawed their way to a 119-108 victory to draw first blood in this epic championship series.
The Golden State Warriors have never been down 0-1 in a Finals series in the Steve Kerr era and while it isn’t a harbinger of death it is a sobering reality. Toronto pulled all the right levers in a complex chess game that saw the Raptors run with Warriors effectively for 4 quarters. That is something you don’t see often at all. At times, Toronto reminded me of a fast faced Houston Rockets or a gun-slinging Oklahoma City Thunder. Toronto just plays much better defensive and they have better scorers around their center-piece. A center-piece I might add that plays great defense, unlike James Harden or Russell Westbrook. They call Kaweah Leonard the Klaw and he is the real deal for sure.
King James might not be in the Finals for the first time in nearly a decade but rest assured there is a Prince in the North that has his forces ready to do battle. Turnovers mean empty possessions on one end and extra opportunities to score on the other side of the court. Often times, those points come in transition and are much higher percentage shots. It’s just bad news all around for the team that gives them away and great news for the team going in the other direction. Often times, the Warriors are the team that wins that battle. Last night, it was the Raptors, and the scary thing is they have the defensive and offensive ability to do it again…if we let them.