The 2019 NBA Finals got underway with a bang on Friday as the Toronto Raptors landed the first blow by winning Game 1 in dominant fashion over the Golden State Warriors. The series remains in Toronto for Game 2 this Monday (AEST).
We hit on two out of three tips in Game 1 including picking the Raptors to win and we’ll be looking to continue that form as we take a look at Game 2, tipping off at 11am on Monday.
The Raptors were fantastic in Game 1 but the productivity came largely from an unsuspected source in star youngster Pascal Siakam. The 25 year old had 32 points on 14/17 shooting to lead the Raptors to a nine point win at home.
The Raptors defence was in full flight as they held the Warriors to just 43% shooting from the field and forced all-star point guard Steph Curry off the three point line at every opportunity. Big men, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, were infinitely better at defending the high pick and roll with Curry as the ball handler than the Portland bigs were in the Western Conference Finals.
The fact that the Warriors lost this game while Raptors star forward Kawhi Leonard had little impact on offence is a daunting prospect. Leonard was just 5/14 from the field for 23 points.
The Raptors were incredible at getting Siakam a mismatch in Game 1, regularly using the pick and roll to get him the ball down in the post against the likes of the shorter Klay Thompson or Steph Curry. They should continue to abuse that in Game 2 meaning Siakam’s line of just 18.5 looks low.
Finding a way to score against this impressive Toronto defence is the Warriors main concern at the moment. All reports suggest that superstar forward Kevin Durant will remain out of the line-up for Game 2, which increases the load on the shoulders of Curry and backcourt teammate Klay Thompson.
Defending the combo of Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam will also be a massive issue in Game 2 after the apparent injury of utility player Andre Igoudala in the opening game of the series. Igoudala injured his calf and is currently listed as a game time decision for Monday.
Without Igoudala and Durant, the Warriors are seriously lacking wing players to defend Leonard, Siakam and even bench player Norman Powell who has proved invaluable in this post-season. So much falls onto the shoulders of Klay Thompson defensively, we tipped him to go under in Game 1 and we like that bet again considering how much he has on his plate at the defensive end.
Our series prediction was the Warriors to win in six games but we have to revise that after seeing Game 1. The story might change once Kevin Durant comes back into the line-up and gives Golden State some more reliable offence but at the moment it’s hard to pick them against the rampant Toronto defence.
There’s still some great value on offer for Toronto in Game 2 and we are happy to take it against the depleted Golden State side.
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