Dave Feschuk: Raptors’ victory in NBA Finals opener a reality check for Warriors

  
Via:  freefaller  •  2 weeks ago  •  42 comments

Dave Feschuk: Raptors’ victory in NBA Finals opener a reality check for Warriors

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


It was only a couple of months back, as the Golden State Warriors muddled through the meaningless dregs of another 82-game slog, that head coach Steve Kerr found a moment to explain his team’s occasional malaise. 



In the quest for a fourth championship in five years, the preeminent team of its generation hasn’t always made life look easy. In March alone the Warriors dropped games to the woeful likes of Phoenix and Dallas and Minnesota — non-playoff teams all. In a season in which Kerr’s team could have been occasionally confused with a soap opera, complete with off-court drama, there were nights when the strain of their status seemed palpable.

“It’s hard for anybody to understand what these guys go through physically, emotionally, spiritually, trying to defend the crown,” Kerr told reporters. “Trying to win the title, trying to stay on top of the mountain — it’s hard.”

Maybe the undeniable level of difficulty of sustaining perennial NBA success is at least part of the explanation for why the Raptors find themselves in possession of a one-game lead in the NBA Finals despite a Game 1 that wasn’t exactly a Toronto masterpiece. Kawhi Leonard didn’t need to be great, Kyle Lowry shot 2-for-9 from the field and still Toronto won convincingly against a visiting team that at times looked uncommitted and underprepared.

Now, overreacting to a single result in any given playoff series can make for a perilous brand of analysis. So even if Golden State’s unimpressive showing in Game 1 transmitted shades of a crumbling empire —well, hold that thought, at least for a few days. The Finals is a marathon, not a sprint. And even if two-time defending Finals MVP Kevin Durant was glimpsed unfurling half-speed shooting drills on Friday after already being deemed unavailable for Game 2, and Boogie Cousins was a relative nonfactor in his Game 1, it’s more than possible that Thursday’s result was the work of a still-great team that simply required a jolt of reality.

Maybe the Warriors’ well-earned arrogance wouldn’t allow them to give the Raptors real respect until the Raptors landed a credible punch. Maybe, come Sunday’s Game 2, the tone totally changes. Or maybe Golden State — now 0-4 in its past four NBA Finals games without Durant — is just not the team we’re used to seeing on this stage. We’ll know soon enough.

As it is, there are only a couple of explanations for Toronto’s Game 1 outplaying of the Warriors. One was that the Warriors didn’t try as hard as they should have. After all, Kerr reiterated Friday that the crux of his team’s defeat came down to allowing Toronto to outscore the Warriors on the fast break by the tally of 24-17 while converting Golden State’s 17 turnovers into 17 points.

“If your transition defence is bad then there’s not a whole lot you can do,” Kerr said.

But transition defence, as Draymond Green was pointing out, essentially comes down to one’s willingness to work, and to work together.

“All transition defence is effort and communication,” Green said.

Perhaps the Warriors arrived in Toronto luxuriating in their overdog status to the point of Game 1 laziness. Golden State’s post-game rationalizations about being unfamiliar with Toronto’s tendencies were laughable in an information-driven league brimming with bottomless video and zero secrets. The Warriors, in talking about how they didn’t know the Raptors very well, sounded like a 10th-grader caught using the entirety of a 10-day study break for a Fortnite bender. Nick Nurse and the Raptors certainly looked like they knew the Warriors’ schemes well enough.

And it’s not like the Warriors hadn’t seen the Raptors run the floor in person. Toronto outscored the Warriors on the fast break by a combined 43-22 in their pair of regular-season wins over the defending champs. Green spoke Friday of Toronto’s speed being a problem for the Warriors — specifically Pascal Siakam’s speed, which wouldn’t immediately seem out of place on an Olympic-level track.

“They have some deers out there galloping,” Andre Iguodala said in the lead-up to the series.

Now that the 35-year-old Iguodala’s fitness is in question after he appeared to suffer a leg injury in Game 1 — and Iguodala is only the frontman of Golden State’s defence on Leonard — Toronto’s advantage on the run is potentially only heightened.

Green spoke Friday of needing to do a better job at guarding Siakam, who reeled off a 32-point Game 1 with Green as a frequent defender. But devoting more resources to stopping Siakam will almost certainly mean an easing of coverage on Leonard. Easing up on Leonard could unleash the man who’s been, by a lot of measures, the best player in the NBA post-season. Which means Green, who recently pronounced himself the greatest defensive player in the history of the sport, figures to be under some pressure to find a way to slow down Siakam himself.

But as he vowed to do better, Green also acknowledged his respect for Siakam’s unlikely rise. Drafted 27th overall in 2016 — Green was drafted 35th overall in 2012 — Siakam has earned late-blooming renown to the surprise of many outside Toronto.

“I think it’s special,” Green said. “He’s become a second option on his team. Some nights the first option, like (Thursday) night. But I can’t say I foresaw that. I played against him last year. I had no clue he would be this guy this year. But he spent a lot of time in the gym and it’s paying off in his game.”

That’s another part of the Warriors’ challenge. While they’ve been pursuing championships, the competition’s been spending time in the gym eyeing their crown. While they’ve been getting more and more tired, the competition’s been getting hungrier. And maybe that also explains a bit of what we saw Thursday. The biggest game in Toronto franchise history was another in a long line of games for the NBA’s living dynasty.

Sunday’s Game 2 will be Golden State’s 120th playoff game since the team featuring Green, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson started on their first post-season run. That’s 31 more playoff games than the next-most-successful club on the list, the San Antonio Spurs, and 49 more post-season games than the Raptors have played over that span. Going to the Finals five straight times, making the playoffs in seven straight seasons, comes with a cost. By the time this series wraps up, the bulk of the league will be two months deep into vacation.

“Losing in the Finals is no fun — you lost all your summer to walk away with nothing,” Green said Friday. “So we want to win.”

Wanting it is one thing. Having the enduring ability to make it happen is another. Maybe we’re watching a basketball empire crumbling; maybe we just saw a great team that needed a wake-up. That the Warriors haven’t been making it look easy means it’s too soon for either possibility to be ruled out.

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Freefaller
1  seeder  Freefaller    2 weeks ago

While I'm not generally a basketball fan, I with a lot of other Canadians find myself jumping on the Raptors bandwagon simply because it's a Cdn team and the first non US team ever in the finals.

Anyone else out there hoping for the Raptors or is this another us vs them thing?

PS:  I am aware that there is only one actual Canadian player on the team

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Freefaller @1    2 weeks ago
"Anyone else out there hoping for the Raptors or is this another us vs them thing?"

Hey!  I just noticed this article.  Toronto's my city.  I've never been a basketball fan, and in fact the only basketball game I ever attended in the past at least 60 years was the original pre-season exhibition game at the newly opened Air Canada Centre when the Raptors first came to Toronto - it was Michael Jordan's team against the Raptors, and I think the only reason I went was to see Michael Jordan play. 

Generally basketball bores me, maybe because I don't know all the nuances of the game, but the only time I find a basketball game at all exciting is in the last few minutes when the score is close.  Anyway, what's happening now is quite a surprise for me, and naturally, being somewhat of a homer (The Leafs and the Blue Jays are my teams) I could get a little excited at the prospect of the Raptors going all the way. 

 
 
 
Freefaller
1.1.1  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.1    2 weeks ago
the only time I find a basketball game at all exciting is in the last few minutes when the score is close. 

Normally the same for me except it's an exciting game that includes the Raptors during the playoffs

 
 
 
Kavika
2  Kavika     2 weeks ago

I'm rooting for Raptors. I'm not Canadian (I have a ton of rellies that are) I want to see a change in the top tier of teams..

Go Raptors...Just don't mix up a puck with a basketball.

 
 
 
Freefaller
2.1  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Kavika @2    2 weeks ago
I want to see a change in the top tier of teams..

Agreed GSW has taken it 3 of the 4 last years, it's someone else's turn

Just don't mix up a puck with a basketball.

Lol full contact basketball with sticks, now there's a thought.  Wait that's kinda already been done with lacrosse.

 
 
 
Kavika
2.1.1  Kavika   replied to  Freefaller @2.1    2 weeks ago
Lol full contact basketball with sticks, now there's a thought.  Wait that's kinda already been done with lacrosse.

Yes it is and I'm a huge Lacrosse fan...The Creators game.

 
 
 
Freefaller
2.1.2  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Kavika @2.1.1    2 weeks ago
I'm a huge Lacrosse fan

Obviously subject to personal opinion but imo lacrosse is the second most exciting NA sport to watch behind hockey

 
 
 
Kavika
2.1.3  Kavika   replied to  Freefaller @2.1.2    2 weeks ago
Obviously subject to personal opinion but imo lacrosse is the second most exciting NA sport to watch behind hockey

Having played both I more prone to Lacrosse, but I love hockey as well.

 
 
 
Raven Wing
2.1.4  Raven Wing  replied to  Kavika @2.1.3    2 weeks ago
but I love hockey as well.

I played field hockey in High School. I loved the game, but, I had to give it up when both my shins had mild fractures from being smacked by the sticks from others. Yeah....we had shin guards, but, most for girls were made for midgets, and being 5' 11" tall, the shin guards were no where large enough to give my shins proper protection.

And the dang boys team would not share one that was big enough! Thus, I had to give it up.  jrSmiley_5_smiley_image.png

 
 
 
Freefaller
2.1.5  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Kavika @2.1.3    2 weeks ago
I more prone to Lacrosse

Obviously being Cdn I'm biased to hockey, but while close I think the speed of hockey gives it the edge.  All is good.

 
 
 
Freefaller
2.1.6  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Raven Wing @2.1.4    2 weeks ago
And the dang boys team would not share one that was big enough!

Trust me ours didn't provide much protection either, dang those sticks hurt.

 
 
 
Raven Wing
2.1.7  Raven Wing  replied to  Freefaller @2.1.6    2 weeks ago
dang those sticks hurt.

Indeed they do! Not very lady-like walking around with huge bandages on both shins, then the resultant black, blue and mild green bruises for weeks after. To say nothing of the pain. And some of the girls whacked people in the shins just for the Hell of it. But, they say that is what 'lock her' rooms are for. (evil grin)

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
3  Buzz of the Orient    2 weeks ago

Just got to watch the last few minutes of the second game - it was so close....

 
 
 
Freefaller
3.1  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3    2 weeks ago

They put in a good effort to get back within 5 points at the end but overall they were dominated in the 3rd and 4th quarters

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
4  Buzz of the Orient    one week ago

Damn it!! I missed watching the third game that the Raptors won decisively.

 
 
 
Freefaller
4.1  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @4    one week ago
the Raptors won decisively.

Buzz you are correct, GSW threatened for a little bit just before halftime but other than that the Raptors owned them in the Warriors home town

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
4.1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Freefaller @4.1    one week ago

gettyimages-1153975954.jpg

The NBA has banned Golden State Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens from games and team activities for one year after Stevens pushed Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry during Game 3 of the Finals. The league also fined Stevens $500,000 for "pushing and directing obscene language" toward Lowry.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/golden-state-warriors-owner-marc-stevens-banned-nba-games-after-pushing-toronto-raptors-kyle-lowry-2019-06-06/

 
 
 
Freefaller
4.1.2  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @4.1.1    one week ago

Saw that, it's a little overreaction imo.  But lol the NBA didn't ask me for my input.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
5  Buzz of the Orient    one week ago

I don't want to nix it, but it's looking like the NBA crown may go outside of the USA for the first time.  The Blue Jays were able to remove the World Series trophy a couple of times, and the Stanley Cup has spent lots of time in Canada of course, but this looks like it's going to be a real shock for the Americans.

Because I had to teach a lesson, I only saw the first quarter and was concerned the Raptors were going to lose it. Couldn't believe my eyes when I turned on the TV with about 7 minutes to go in the 4th.

 
 
 
Freefaller
5.1  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @5    one week ago
Couldn't believe my eyes when I turned on the TV with about 7 minutes to go in the 4th.

From that I'll assume they won game 4, was in a car accident last night and with everything that entails I missed the game and follow up.  Oh well gotta go research to see if there's any used cars around that I can afford.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
5.1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Freefaller @5.1    one week ago

Oh no!  Sorry to hear that.  No insurance?  How about you - were you injured?

 
 
 
Freefaller
5.1.2  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @5.1.1    one week ago

Thanks for your concern Buzz, lol I had insurance just not Collision so as it was just a single car accident (just me) I get nothing.  The car was totalled as everything forward of the mid point was moved, broken or bent, basically I got caught in a slushy snowstorm (snow on 7 Jun, sheesh) which grabbed my vehicle and caused me to skid off into the ditch.  This wouldn't have been a big deal normally but someone's driveway crossed the ditch and I launched off that landing nose down on the other side.

Me? I walked away unscathed but while I was outside of vehicle multiple others drove by and I was soaked to the skin with cold wet slush so I think I caught a cold/flu.

Anyway I just bought a used Escape this afternoon and am back in debt after all of two weeks with none (sigh)

Take care of yourself and we'll see what happens the next game the Raptors play (fingers crossed)

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
5.1.3  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Freefaller @5.1.2    one week ago

The Warriors have to win all three of the next games, whereas the Raptors need only win one - I like the odds.

 
 
 
Freefaller
5.1.4  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @5.1.3    one week ago
I like the odds.

As do I, but odds were I wouldn't wreck my car on Fri. So I'm not going to count my chickens quite yet

 
 
 
Kavika
6  Kavika     one week ago

Go Raptors.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
7  JohnRussell    one week ago

I have watched a little of a couple of the Finals games.  This must have been a weak year for the NBA. Neither team has impressed me as NBA champion caliber. 

I do hope Toronto wins though. Why not? Spread the wealth. 

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
7.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  JohnRussell @7    one week ago

As for "spreading the wealth" I read an article about what winning the title means financially for a team and it does bring a LOT of "wealth".

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
8  Buzz of the Orient    5 days ago

It is REALLY depressing to actually have watched a whole basketball game for the first time since many NT members may have been born, watching the Raptors trail through most of the game and then in the last 5 minutes or so get really excited when they went into the lead, and then be heartbroken when they threw the ball away and by doing so threw the whole game away.  Next game, I don't need the heartache.  I'll turn it on near the end of the game.

 
 
 
Freefaller
8.1  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @8    5 days ago

LOL.  Sorry Buzz but you've been around long enough to know that Toronto teams can and do self-destruct.  Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
8.1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Freefaller @8.1    5 days ago

Thinking of Shoeless Joe Jackson and his team (Chicago White Sox?) one has to wonder if there was a REASON to lose.  If not for the criminal gamblers, could it be there's more money in more ticket sales because of more games, more money from TV advertisers who base their paying on the number of times their ad is shown?

 
 
 
Texan1211
8.1.2  Texan1211  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @8.1.1    5 days ago

but then you would have to believe that the advertisers are part of a scheme, along with the refs.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
8.1.3  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Texan1211 @8.1.2    5 days ago

Not necessarily - their contract would be perfectly reasonable to indicate that payment for showing the ad is for each time shown. That simply makes commercial sense - but the advertisers are the ones who are paying, the financial benefit is for the team owner.  And I suppose if you saw ref's calls that were questionable it could have an effect. 

One fascinating call during this last game was when a Warrior jumped up and pushed a ball that was going to bounce off the net, into the basket (near the end of the game).  Apparently it was called interference even though it was the same team member as the one who shot at the net.  I'm quite confused by that ruling - it didn't make sense to me.

 
 
 
Texan1211
8.1.4  Texan1211  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @8.1.3    5 days ago

Most sports leagues television contract money is split up among all the teams in the league.

And if the ball is on the downward trajectory or within the cylinder, it is goaltending, or if it blocked after hitting the glass.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
8.1.5  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Texan1211 @8.1.4    5 days ago

Thanks for the info - basketball was never my sport. 

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
9  Buzz of the Orient    2 days ago

https%3A%2F%2Fwww.colourbox.com%2Fprevie

As I said I would do, I only watched the last couple of minutes.  A bad throw during that time was for me a replay of how they threw the game away at the end in the previous game - but this time they persevered, and the NBA trophy leaves the USA for the first time.  Basketball seems to be the only sport where the last minute of play can be stretched into ten minutes. Having lived for my last almost half century in Canada in Toronto, it was my town, and I'm proud of the Raptors.

They earned themselves something special besides whatever other bonuses they get:

TORONTO RAPTORS JEWISH CO-OWNER SAYS TEAM WILL VISIT ISRAEL IF IT WINS NBA

The team’s Jewish billionaire co-owner, Larry Tanenbaum, said he will bring the club to visit if it wins the title.

https://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Toronto-Raptors-Jewish-co-owner-says-team-will-visit-Israel-if-it-wins-NBA-592476

 
 
 
Freefaller
9.1  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @9    2 days ago
Basketball seems to be the only sport where the last minute of play can be stretched into ten minutes.

Lol Buzz, no kidding. Heck I think the last .9 second was about 2 minutes long.

But the result was worth it, WAY TO GO RAPTORS!!

 
 
 
MUVA
10  MUVA    2 days ago

AS a laker fan way to go Raptors everyone team should win at least one title.

 
 
 
MUVA
11  MUVA    2 days ago

Plus I hate Golden state dynasty my ass.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
12  JohnRussell    2 days ago

I'm happy for Toronto, it's always nice to win the first title in franchise history. And there certainly was a lot of drama.

I don't think the NBA is what it used to be or going in the right direction though.  I think the Michael Jordan Bulls teams, the Shaq-Kobe Lakers teams, or the Spurs from the turn of the century with Tim Duncan, Ginobli and Tony Parker would kill either of the Raptors or the Warriors.

 
 
 
Dismayed Patriot
12.1  Dismayed Patriot  replied to  JohnRussell @12    2 days ago
I'm happy for Toronto, it's always nice to win the first title in franchise history.

I've been a GS Warriors fan since I moved here to California and started watching Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullins and Billy Owens, and I have really loved watching Curry and KD and had always admired Steve Kerr when he played for the Bulls so getting him as a coach I thought was amazing. They are a great team and pushed past a lot to win 3 championships in four years. With that said, I couldn't be happier that the Raptors won, I was rooting for them from game one, mainly because I want the NBA to catch fire in Canada and build a bigger fan base up there. When the Raptors were created in 1995 the Canadian support was rather lackluster to put it mildly. Since then it's grown but I don't think they've ever felt completely like they were part of the NBA, they were sort of outsiders. With this win I think that's irrevocably changed and the fervor with which Canadians were cheering for their team was awesome to watch. Congratulations Toronto, you totally deserved this hard fought win.

 
 
 
Freefaller
12.1.1  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @12.1    2 days ago

I suspect basketball will grow in the future but I have doubts it will catch fire.  We simply don't have the population base to support many teams (lol I mean NYC alone is approx. 1/4 our total population).  We already lost the Vancouver Grizzlies due to lack of support years ago.

And just to say it Hockey Rules!!

 
 
 
Freefaller
12.2  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  JohnRussell @12    2 days ago
Tim Duncan, Ginobli and Tony Parker would kill either of the Raptors or the Warriors.

Possibly but we'll never know

 
 
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