Winning Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals always meant a lot more to the Toronto Raptors than to the Golden State Warriors. Therefore, the fact that Toronto was sharper, more intense, more energized and more consistent makes sense.
Golden State looked rusty, like a team that had a nine-day layoff in the middle of the NBA playoffs. It felt like for much of the game, it was like they were “playing in the mud.” Maybe, it was a bit much to expect the Warriors to defeat a road opponent that was more than ready to conquer the world.
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The two-time defending champions couldn’t possibly match the Raptors’ electricity in front of its home crowd. There was a sense of urgency that the Raptors played with that Golden State just couldn’t capture.
Game 2 will tell a truer tale. The novelty of the moment for Toronto will wear off. Those “eye-popping shots” (as described by Raptors coach Nick Nurse) aren’t’ going to drop every game. If you tell me that Pascal Siakam will average 30 for the series and Marc Gasol will get 20, then we can just call it a Raptors sweep.
The entire country of Canada was on supermax last night. The refs allowed Toronto to manhandle Steph Curry and toss him around like a rag doll. Klay Thompson was in and out of consciousness. Drake was equally annoying as he is now the modern-day Spike Lee. Times 100.
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The Raptors definitely established a tone throughout their Game 1 victory. It’s clear that they have come to win the whole ball of wax. Kawhi is probably not going to return, so when you talk about the team that is most committed to the moment, it’s Toronto. Everyone knows this is a one-shot deal. The franchise won’t get this opportunity again for a long time.
To win so convincingly, despite a subpar game from Kawhi Leonard — who has dominated these playoffs and is now being compared to Michael Jordan — is a great sign. The NBA Finals is usually always won by the team whose secondary players rise to an All-Star level at the right moments.
If the series does go to seven and Toronto gets to play on its home floor for the Larry O’Brien Trophy, they can look back to Game 1 as the moment when they put the pedal to the medal.