After the Warriors tie the series up 1-1, Nick Ballistreri previews Game 3 and makes his pick as the Warriors prove that they can play with their backs against the wall.
Game 3 of the NBA Finals will be played at Oracle Arena, on Wednesday June 5, at 9:00 PM EST. The game be seen on ABC.
Warriors vs Raptors preview
It had all the makings of a turning point. The Raptors held a double-digit lead throughout the first half, and looked like the much better team. But we’ve seen this movie before, and a champion does not go down without a fight. On the backs of Steph Curry and Draymond Green, the Warriors fought through the injuries, pressure, and the reality of an 0-2 deficit, to come from behind with a 109-104 in Game 2.
Steve Kerr made the first chess move of the series, inserting Demarcus Cousins into the starting lineup after the Raptors dominated the paint in Game 1. Cousins missed 14 games after tearing his quad in the first round, and looked rusty in his return. He responded in a big way, finishing with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists. His impact went far beyond the box score, as he held down the paint, protecting the rim and came up with some timely blocks and rebounds.
Steph Curry struggled to begin the game, but anyone watching the game knew it was a matter of time before he began hitting shots. He started picking it up near the end of the first half, where he hit a couple 3’s and some fancy finishes at the rim to help the Warriors cut their deficit from double digits to 5 at half.
Draymond Green continued his incredible play of late, as he nearly recorded his 4th straight playoff triple double, finishing with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists. Green was one of the only Warriors to play well in the beginning of the game, bringing the energy and keeping the Warriors in it early. It would be a crime to talk about this game without speaking on the impact Quinn Cook made. The backup guard came up huge in the 4th quarter, hitting some big 3 pointers to keep the pressure off Curry once Klay Thompson went down with an injury late. Quinn played like a guy who has been before, and his big shots kept the Raptors late game runs at bay.
This was the Raptors chance to take a commanding lead in this series, up double-digits in the first half with the Toronto crowd going crazy. They let their foot off the gas however, as they let up an 18-0 run to start the 2nd half, losing all of their momentum and ultimately, never recovering.
The Raptors let this one slip away, plain and simple. When you have a champion like the Warriors on the ropes, it is paramount to put them away. Going up 2-0 before having to head to Oracle would have been huge to their chances, and now they are going to look back at this missed opportunity and hang their head at what could’ve been.
The Raptors were lead by a big performance by Kawhi Leonard, who finished with 34 points and 14 rebounds. Kawhi made countless tough shots to keep the Warriors from pulling away, as they cut the lead to 2 late in the 4th. Kawhi has proven time and time again that this stage is not too bright for him, and if there is going to be a man not named LeBron to take the Warriors down, it is going to be him. That being said, he cannot do it alone.
Kawhi did not get much help. Kyle Lowry was in foul trouble all game, fouling out with 4 minutes left in the 4th. Pascal Siakam did not make the same impact as he did in Game 1, finishing with only 12 points after his 32 point performance.
If you asked the average fan who would be second in scoring for the Raptors, maybe 5% of people would say Fred VanVleet. But there he was again, making countless big plays and shots and playing with the composure of a 15 year veteran. VanVleet finished with 17 points, and some pesky defense on the Warriors guards, tallying 3 steals as well. VanVleet has proven to be a key piece for this Raptors team at a time when they desperately need their role players to step up.
One key thing to keep in mind. Warriors star Klay Thompson went down late in Game 2 with what is being called a hamstring injury. Hamstrings can be tricky, and although Klay said after Game 2 that he “expects to play”, this is something to keep an eye on.
Warriors vs Raptors key series stats
● The Warriors had double the assists of the Raptors in Game 2, finishing with a 34-17 margin
● The Warriors 34 assists tied a 20-year NBA Finals high
● Curry shot only 6-17 on the road, and the Warriors still won
● The Raptors deployed the rarely used defensive strategy “Box-And-1” on Steph Curry at times
Warriors vs Raptors betting lines
● The Warriors opened as 5.5 point favorites in Game 3
● Draftkings Sportsbook has the best odds for each team, with the Warriors -225 on the ML, and Raptors +195
Warriors vs Raptors Game 3 Spread Prediction
The oddsmakers agree with me, that the Raptors blew their chance in Game 2. They have listed the Warriors as (-5.5) point favorites in Game 3, as the series shifts to Oracle, where the Warriors have not lost in the finals since Game 7 of the 2016 finals. The Raptors have proven they can win a game on the road in a big spot though, and they will put up a fight. However, I think the Warriors ride their wave from Game 2, and win this one back at home. The home crowd will make a big impact, just as it did in Toronto, and the Warriors stars will feed off the home crowd. I told you guys +2 was a great value for the Warriors in Game 2, and I’m sticking with them in Game 3. If Klay Thompson is ruled out, this changes, but as it stands right now, I’m rocking with the Warriors at -5.5. When you have a chance to knock a champion out, you can’t waste those opportunities Toronto!