Raptors Fight Off Every Warriors Push To Grab A Comfortable Game 1 Victory

Photo: Gregory Shamus (Getty)

In retrospect, we had a pretty solid indication that things were turning Toronto’s way in the build up to their Game 1 victory over the Warriors:

If that dreaded hashtag alone didn’t seal both the Raptors win and the over, Toronto’s hellacious half-court defense did the former, and the performance of Pascal Siakam’s lifetime did the latter, and the Raptors grabbed a surprisingly comfortable 118–109 win. As they did against the 76ers in the second round and the Bucks in the conference finals, Toronto’s many long-limbed defenders mucked up Golden State’s high-octane offense and forced the Warriors to hunt for buckets out of isolations and mismatches. And Siakam was unconscious from the floor, pouring in 32 points on absurd 14-of-17 shooting and playing like at worst the third-best player on the court.

It wasn’t all Siakam. Marc Gasol had his best game of the playoffs; Kawhi Leonard capably anchored the show; Danny Green rediscovered his shot; and Fred VanVleet continued his momentum from the end of the Bucks series, with 15 points to lead Toronto’s bench. Depth has been a strength of the Raptors for whole years, but that’s usually an asset that loses a ton of value the deeper a team goes in the playoffs. That may not be the case in this series—the more the Raptors leaned on useful dudes like VanVleet and Serge Ibaka, and squeezed valuable minutes out of the versatile Norman Powell, the more preposterous it seemed that the Warriors were giving Finals minutes to Jonas Jerebko and Alfonzo McKinnie and Quinn Cook. It’s not that those guys stink so much as it is that the Warriors lose a ton of playmaking and play-finishing wattage when 40 or more percent of a given lineup is made up of glaringly unexceptional players.

Which brings us to DeMarcus Cousins. It was exciting to see that he’d been activated for the game after the time he’s missed due to injury, but Steve Kerr might’ve jumped the gun by playing him Thursday night. Within a couple minutes of taking the floor he was gasping for breath, and looked for the most part like a 1990s-style lumbering goof whose job it is to give a couple hard fouls and get the hell out of there. The center position could be a lingering problem for Golden State—Jordan Bell got the start but played less than 12 minutes, and Cousins was good for just eight more. If Kevin Durant were around the Warriors could just ride the world-devouring Hamptons Five lineup; with Durant out and only Kevon Looney to man anything like a traditional center spot, the best the Warriors can do for a go-to lineup is play Shaun Livingston alongside Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala, but that lineup’s spacing problems might spell death against Toronto’s stifling defense. It’s less a Lineup of Death and more a Lineup of Mutual Annoyance. And its job won’t get any easier after Iguodala pulled up lame in the fourth quarter:

Toronto grabbed the lead early and had control most of the way. A few times in the second half the Warriors seemed ready to put a run together, getting within three or four points, and each time the Raptors quickly swatted it back and pushed the lead out to three or four possessions. It was an impressive showing for a team with a rookie head coach, making its first ever Finals appearance, and they did it without another Kyle Lowry Game, and without Kawhi going nuts. They’ve firmly shifted the heat onto the Warriors, who now find themselves in the unfamiliar position of needing to find solutions in order to grab momentum in an NBA Finals series.


more recommended stories

  • “I’ll Knock You The Fuck Out, Bro”

    Photo: John Amis (Getty Images) One.

  • Wilkin Castillo’s First MLB Hit In Over A Decade Was A Go-Ahead RBI Double

    For the first time in over.

  • Todd Frazier Upset He Hit Home Run Instead Of Deep Fly-Out

    The Mets have been having an.

  • Is This Kyrie Irving Scolding Celtics Fans Under An Alias On Boston Talk Radio?

    Photo: Maddie Meyer (Getty) Thursday morning.

  • Bol Bol Heads To Denver Nuggets After Agonizing Draft Night Slide

    Photo: Julio Cortez (AP) Extremely fun.

  • Andrés Guardado Is The Engine That Makes Mexico Run At Full Power

    Photo: Matthew Stockman (Getty Images) Mexico’s.

  • The Texans’ Attempt To Hire A GM Was Cartoonishly Inept

    Photo: Maddie Meyer (Getty) It’s been.

  • Chicago White Sox Announce Upcoming Expansion Of Protective Netting To Foul Poles

    Photo: David Banks (Getty) The Chicago.

  • Matt Carpenter Beats A Marlins Shift With A Standup Bunt Double

    Screenshot: MLB.com Turns out the solo.

  • The Ultimate Warrior Is Not A Gay Pride Mascot

    On Thursday afternoon, WWE ambassador and.

  • Chile’s Christiane Endler Became A Goal-Stopping Machine And Frustrated The USWNT Into A Goalless Second Half

    Given the low expectations for Chile.

  • The Pelicans Finally Traded Anthony Davis To The Lakers

    Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea (Getty Images) My.

  • The 10 Best Deals of June 14, 2019

    Best Deals of the DayThe best.

  • Fuck Your Asterisk

    Love to kiss Larry.Photo: Ezra Shaw.

  • Kellen Winslow II Couldn’t Stop Masturbating In Front Of His Teammates

    Photo: Mike Ehrmann (Getty) Former NFL.

  • Police Describe Some Pretty Unexpected Details In Ongoing Investigation Of David Ortiz’s Shooting

    Photo: Roberto Guzman (AP) David Ortiz.

  • UFC Fighter Macy Chiasson’s Apartment Destroyed In Dallas Crane Collapse [Update]

    A construction crane collapsed amid fierce.

  • Warriors President Of Basketball Operations Bob Myers Reveals Kevin Durant’s Achilles Injury

    Photo: Claus Andersen (Getty) Warriors president.

  • 29th Horse Dies At Santa Anita One Day After Officials Tell Track To Stop Holding Races

    Photo: Jae Hong (AP) A three-year-old.

  • Deadspin Up All Night: I Got A Date With The Night

    Thank you for your continued support.

  • Argentina Are Just Happy To Be Here

    Photo: Marcelo Endelli (Getty) Argentina are.

  • The 10 Best Deals of June 7, 2019

    Best Deals of the DayThe best.

  • Rafael Nadal Is Tennis Jail

    Photo: Clive Brunskill (Getty) “If you.

  • Welcome To The Last Ride Of Marta’s Brazil

    The sun is about to set.

  • This Is Why Kyle Lowry Was So Pissed

    Photo: Lachlan Cunningham (Getty) Early in.

  • Run, Don’t Walk, To Amazon’s Impressive One-Day Running Shoe Sale

    Amazon Running Shoe Gold Box |.

  • Diamondbacks Fan Tries To Crack Kenley Jansen With His Bare Cheeks

    Can you spot the butt? Look.

  • Nobody Has It Better Than Liverpool

    Photo: Nigel Roddis (Getty) Along the.

  • Warriors Come Alive In Third Quarter, Even NBA Finals

    Photo: Gregory Shamus (Getty) For one.

  • Neymar Accused Of Raping A Woman In Paris

    Photo: Buda Mendes (Getty Images) A.

  • Twins Broadcaster Bert Blyleven Calls For The Destruction Of Tropicana Field After The Park Stole Another Homer From Miguel Sano

    While the Rays were unable to.

  • Semen Should Always Be Called Jizz

    Image: Getty An old and possibly.