NBA Finals: Raptors devour Warriors, seal Game 1

MANILA, Philippines – It’s very unusual for the Warriors to start the Finals in their away jerseys but this year, they travelled to Toronto for Game 1 to defend their title. But, the Raptors, led by defensive specialist, Kawhi Leonard, will be in their way to foil a potential Dubs-three-peat.

This is Raptors’ first ever trip to the finals since its league entry in 1995. As expected, bugs hit them with the first turnover of the game and Kawhi obtained his first personal foul within seconds after the tip off. Warriors on the other hand went to Steph Curry for the early lead.

NBA Finals: Raptors devour Warriors, seal Game 1
Kawhi Leonard’s 4th quarter explosion with the help of Pascal Siakam helped the Raptors secured Game 1 vs. Golden State Warriors | Photo Credit:

Toronto planned to take Game 1 by beating Golden State with its own game: 3 point shooting. True to that, the Raptors snatched the lead by dropping long bombs and even big man Marc Gasol had his fair share from the outside.

Good start for the home team, as the Raptors closed the opener with a 25-21 lead.

Demarcus Cousins started the 2nd quarter on the 5th spot for the Dubs after injuring his quads in game 2 of the Playoffs’ 1st round. Cousins will be a great reliever for Kevin Durant who is officially out of Game 1 due to a calf injury.

The lengthy forward has been bannering the sports news headlines recently with the rumors of him heading to New York after the season. Reports also state that KD has put his Bay Area home for sale and bought an apartment in NYC.

It had been a balanced scoring from both squads on the early phase of the 2nd period courtesy of the subs. Fred Van Vleet was in good shooting condition for the Raptors while the Warriors relied on Shaun Livingston offensively.

Golden State managed to grabbed the lead but it was just momentarily as Pascal Siakam worked his way in and out of the shaded lane to re-establish their advantage. However, Leonard got into foul trouble under 2 minutes of the second.

Raptors big men Gasol and Siakam had been instrumental in the 1st half with 14 and 12 points respectively as they headed to the dugout with a 10-point, 59-49 lead.

The halftime break didn’t cool Pascal Siakam down. The Most Improved Player of the Year candidate punished Draymond Green on the low post and drained deuces in the perimeter at the start of the 3rd quarter.

The Splash Brothers tried to make a comeback, made few good treys that lowered the Raptors lead to 6. But, Siakam was simply unstoppable in the interior that widened the gap anew mid in the third.

Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol were pulled out in the dying minutes of the penultimate quarter that placed the Warriors within 7, 88-81.

Just like that, Toronto’s lead had gone down to just 3 at the beginning of the final quarter. Stats don’t lie, Warriors have the ability to overcome a hefty opponent lead in the 2nd half and the Raptors’ coaching staff was pretty aware of that.

Pascal Siakam was the only go-to-guy for Coach Nick Nurse in the 2nd half. Worse, Kyle Lowry who was quiet in this game got his 5th personal foul along with Marc Gasol.

Just as the Warriors gained their momentum, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green finally showed up and brought the lead back up to double-digit that frustrated Golden State especially Klay Thompson who was slapped with a technical foul after throwing the ball to the referee.

Few more minutes later, the Raptors unleashed more points and Kyle Lowry put the nails in the coffin with a ringless three pointer to secure Game 1, 118-109.

Game 2 will still be in Toronto come Monday, June 3, 2019 at 8 AM (Philippine Time).

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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