Golden State Warriors
Even with all the injuries and hobbled players, the Golden State Warriors showed it’s championship pedigree by winning Game 2 on the road vs. the Toronto Raptors. Head coach Steve Kerr and his staff have done a very good job tweaking and altering the game plan based on who’s available. But, the most important department for the Warriors is the training staff, keeping DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Igudoula healthy as well as getting Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant ready as soon as possible.
If not, the Raptors look to jump back on the winning list.
Keys to the game
On offense, Toronto’s supporting cast must show up to assist Kawhi Leonard, especially Pascal Siakam. They must attack the basket to keep the pressure on Golden State’s defense and not fall into the three-point shooting trap. The Raptors have to share the ball, they need better ball movement and less isolation.
The Raptors focus defensively should be squarely on Stephen Curry and trying to take him out of his rhythm. They must defend the three-point line better; giving up open looks to the Warriors could be catastrophic. Protecting the paint may not seem relevant against Golden State because of their shooting prowess but they also take what the defense gives them, including back door lay-ups.
Offensively, Golden State’s plan is constant player and ball movement so the defense can’t lock in on anyone specific. The others have been good in contributing to what the stars have been doing, whether it’s a rebound or a timely basket. Shooting well from three-point range will open up the floor, opening up Toronto’s defense for easy layups.
Golden State has to get back to prevent the Raptor’s transition game from getting easy baskets and hurting them. Team rebounding is a priority to prevent extra possessions and second chance points. Protecting the paint will be critical which will force the Raptors to shoot jumpers and help keep the Warriors out of foul trouble and low free throw attempts.
The x-factor for Toronto will be Marc Gasol. In Game 1, Gasol’s defense in trapping Curry set the tone. Now that the Warriors made adjustments his help on close out three-pointers and just being a body in the paint to alter shots can help start the fast break. Offensively, Gasol has to do a better job in selling the screen to get the mismatch. He must also hit the open jumper without hesitating so the pump fake can be affective later on.
The x-factor for Golden State will be Alfonzo McKinnie. McKinnie becomes important now that Looney is out for the rest of the series. What makes him valuable is he can guard on the perimeter and help on rotation plus his ability to rebound. If he continues to keep possession alive with offensive rebounds, this makes Looney’s injury not as bad. Any scoring from him would be a bonus, especially if he continues to hit the open three-pointer.
Prediction- Even with their mash unit of injuries, Golden State still has enough pieces to get it done and will win based on having great mentally fortitude.