Will the Real Warriors Please Stand Up?

Moments after game one of the NBA Finals: “Man, Toronto is looking amazing! Pascal Siakam is Finals MVP bound! Without KD, the Warriors are nothing. Imagine losing with four All-Stars on the floor. Toronto in four!”

Moments after game two: “Well, I’d be damned. Warriors in five.”

Even without Kevin Durant, the Golden State Warriors somehow managed to escape the 6ix with a win. I was confident the Toronto Raptors were going to work the Warriors after their showing in game one, but man oh man, was I wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, game one saw Spicy P and the Raptors come to play; they hung around with the most dominant dynasty in recent sports history. Despite a combined 27 points from Kawhi and Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam stepped up and exploded with 32 points on 82% shooting. Tough bucket after tough bucket, Siakam drove hard to the hoop, collapsed the Warriors defense, and still found a way to get the shot to fall.

Marc Gasol added a hefty 20 points and Fred Vanvleet had 15 off the bench including a miraculous bank shot prayer that erupted the crowd. On the other end, Stephen Curry led all scorers with 34 points while Draymond Green notched yet another triple double. The Warriors, however, barely got back in transition defense and turned the ball over 16 times.

Fast forward past a petty Drake and Draymond confrontation to game two that echoed a similar story in the first half. Toronto outplayed the Warriors throughout most of the first half with help from exits by Curry and Kevon Looney due to  injuries (Curry would eventually return in the first half). Being up by 12 at one point, it seemed as if Golden State was going to get blown out until…. well, until the Warriors remembered that they are the Warriors.

Golden State exploded into a 20-0 run to go up 13 midway through the third. To highlight how impressive and mind boggling that is, Toronto’s win probability with 18 seconds left in the first half was at 76.2%. Following Golden State’s 20-0 run, the win probability then favored the Warriors at 88%! Are you kidding me! WITHOUT KD!

As impressive as this is, it’s pretty simple how Golden State was able to dismantle Toronto so quickly; they wanted it more. So much of the Warriors’ success comes from their ability to never be fazed when down by double digits and catch fire quickly. Even after Klay Thompson left the game with injury, Golden State still never let the lead leave their hands.

The big difference from game one, however, was the play of Demarcus Cousins. After only eight minutes on Thursday, Boogie played 28 minutes and notched 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists. KD is bound to return either game three or game four, so pray for the Raptors. I mean, Klay, Steph, Looney, and KD were all out at one point in game two… AND TORONTO STILL LOST.

As for my prediction in my last article, I still believe the Warriors win the next three games to win the title, and to cap it all off, Curry will secure his first and much coveted Finals MVP. I knew Toronto would win game one and choke game two, so I’d listen to my advice carefully. To my friends in Canada, best of luck facing the Warriors in Oracle Wednesday night (fyi: the Warriors are 45-8 at home in the past five postseasons. But don’t worry, you’ll do fine!).

-Mateo Gutierrez

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