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Golden State Warriors
The stage is set, this is what we have been waiting for all year. The familiar Golden State Warriors, who are making their fifth straight appearance in the Finals, are facing the first time ever in the Finals, Toronto Raptors.
Although they’ve been in the Finals since 2015, this is unfamiliar territory for the Warriors not having home court advantage. Whether this plays a psychological part in this series or not, remains to be seen. Road or home, most would think that experience should be a factor.
Toronto has little experience but it just might be enough to get them to the promise land. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green both won rings with the San Antonio Spurs and Serge Ibaka has been to the Finals as a teammate of the Warriors’ Kevin Durant with Oklahoma City Thunder.
Besides all of the drama dealing with Durant and Leonard deciding to stay and Drake and Draymond Green going at it, here is the breakdown of the series.
Keys to the game
Toronto’s defense might be the toughest defense the Warriors faced in their five-year run. Movement within the paint might be able to break this defensive code. This series will be more of a chess match considering that the Raptors’ starting lineup will be contingent on who Golden State will start at the center position.
Starting Kevon Looney or Andrew Bogut will force them to start Marc Gasol which would give the Warriors an advantage with the pick-and-roll exposing Gasol. Another matchup they should take advantage of is Shaun Livingston’s size over Toronto’s backup guard Fred VanVleet. Livingston should be able to get any shot he wants at any time.
The possibility of having Andre Iguodala in the series will be huge defensively. If healthy, “Iggy” can either be the main defender on Leonard or come in and help Klay Tompson. Either or, it will give them a fresh body on “The Claw” and most importantly, they can’t let Toronto’s role players get in a rhythm. Meaning, don’t double Leonard, he can’t score 70 points so they have to focus more on everyone else.
The biggest focal point for the Raptors is don’t panic if the Warriors start hitting threes. Staying within the game plan offensively and not forcing contested three-pointers will keep them in the game.
Attacking the basket will also be essential in this series. As great as a defender Green is, the Warriors are not know for their shot blocking ability. This can put the Warriors in foul trouble early in the quarter plus get them in the penalty.
Defensively, they have to take Green out of the offensive for Golden State. With Durant out, the offense runs through him and this can disrupt what they want to do. Also if they are quick on switching off the screens, then it will become difficult shooting in rhythm which will cause the extra pass and allow time for rotation on defense.
The x-factor for the Warriors is Klay Thompson. You usually don’t put a player of his stature as the x-factor but his play will determine the outcome of this series. He will at some point draw the assignment of guarding Leonard and he will work hard just to attempt to slow him down.
Offensively, he will more likely have Leonard and Danny Green guarding him so scoring might be a grind as well. If he can win one of those battles, it puts Golden State in a better position to succeed.
The x-factor for the Raptors is Green. Mentioned earlier, he will have the assignment of either Thompson or Stephen Curry. Just making them work on offensive can be a win.
Offensively is where they will need him to step up. He will have more open shots and opportunities to get going rather than get stifled like he did against the Milwaukee Bucks. If he gets going, then we might be seeing a new team hoist the up trophy.
Prediction- Contrary to belief, this will be a long drawn out series. Who will out hustle, or make the least amount of mistakes wins this battle. Toronto wins in grooling seven games.