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Golden State Warriors
Toronto heard enough of the Golden State dynasty talk and didn’t want to be another sacrificial lamb caught in the Warriors’ slaughter. Mission accomplished in Game 1, the Raptors came out and took it to Golden State. Toronto must come out with even more passion in Game 2 to put the Warriors in an unfamiliar 0-2 series hole.
Keys to the game
Offensively, Golden State has to establish their outside shooting and be accurate from the three point line. Without Kevin Durant, they will need a community effort to give the Splash Brothers the support they need. The Warriors have to treat the basketball with love and not give it away so carelessly.
Defensively, the Warriors don’t have rim protection, so keeping Toronto out of the paint is crucial. The strategy should be to play Kawhi Leonard straight up and double him infrequently to not allow others to hurt them. Their defensive rotation needs to be on time and more forceful when closing on perimeter players.
On offense, Toronto’s plan is to attack the rim as much as possible due to the Warriors lack of shot blockers. This goes hand in hand with their their three point shooting, getting clean looks off penetration and ball movement. Getting out in the open court gives them an advantage and opportunities for easy transition points.
The Raptors will use their lengths to alter and block shots, get deflections and steals and just disrupt the Warrior’s offensive of flow. Every player on the floor must know the rotating assignments, closing out on shooters and doubling off the right players from the scouting report perspective. Not falling asleep or having defensive breakdowns are important especially since Golden State will make you pay for those mental lapses.
The x-factor for Golden State will be Demarcus Cousins and Shaun Livingston. Without Durant’s scoring, Cousins will need to be featured more and he must be more aggressive on offense. Livingston can affect the game on both ends and must assert himself on offense for maximum impact.
The x-factor for Toronto will be Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. Lowry will need to be a veteran leader and fill in the blanks on offense. Ibaka will need to be a factor on both ends, whether it’s knocking down a timely jumper or blocking/altering shots.
Prediction-Toronto will hold serve at home to win and take a 2-0 series lead over Golden State.