By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
Among the more adventurous in our society, pleasure can come with pain.
In Oakland, they’re currently not so sure about that already questionable correlation.
For the Golden State Warriors there hasn’t ever been an NBA Finals like the one they are currently facing in this, their fifth consecutive trip to the championship round. Tied 1-1 with a game and now proven Toronto Raptors team, GSW is stretching itself thin in making up for minutes loss among key contributors who are hurt or recovering from past hurt.
Depending on how you look at things naturally — or more likely your rooting interests in this series — the Dubs are right now either a team that is one injury away from the kind of disaster that could lead to an historic Finals upset, or it is one return away from putting away a Toronto team that couldn’t maintain home court against the weakened champs.
According to MyTopSportsbooks.com, the Warriors (-290) are still heavy favorites this evening after winning Game 2 despite the potential loss of Klay Thompson.
Thompson, the most reliable sharpshooter of the dynasty, suffered an undisclosed left hamstring injury in Game 2 and is the prime story-line heading into Game 3, which tips off at 8 pm CPT on ABC. Given Thompson’s up in the air status, Golden State knows it will need some more contributions elsewhere in its lineup, particularity because another recent starter, Kevon Looney looks to be out for the rest of the series with what CBSSports.com reports to be “a non-displaced first costal cartilage fracture.”
As mouthy as that Looney diagnosis is, it didn’t measure up to the lip-running both Thompson and the famously sidelined Kevin Durant were to Drake in the bowels of Scotiabank Arena after Game 2. Given the two Warriors involved, maybe the talk is wolf ticketing times two, but it could also be two men who still stand to make a big impact in this series letting it be known that they’ve taken much of the Raptors’ best shots and they are still sitting pretty.
Thompson, indeed, was the MVP of Game 2 with his team-high 25, including nine straight points to get the team off to a needed quick start. More contributions came later from the likes of Quinn Cook off the bench, but a lot of what swung Game 2 came from starters DeMarcus Cousins (11 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists) along with late-game hero Andre Iguodala. Plus, Draymond Green’s near triple-double (17 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists) hearkened back to his game-changing play earlier this playoff season.
Toronto could very well be up 2-0 in this series. They’ve managed to win six of the eight quarter played in the series and they certainly made use of the ultra-fanatic energy provided by Aubrey, Nav and the Jurassic gang in the North. Kawhi Leonard hasn’t really done anything indelible in this series yet Pascal Siakam won them a game and Fred Van Vleet is making Rockford as proud as it could ever be regarding the NBA.
Still, there’s only so much the Raps can do if they are installing Box-and-1 zones against a weakened Warriors offense and if Van Vleet’s 7-of-17 shooting (41 percent) is the kind of game that leads the way efficency-wise, as it did Sunday evening.
Leonard led the way with 34 but only shot 8-of-20. Kawhi will be better off doing more by doing less in the games in Northern California, but he needs more of the kind of support he saw in Game 1, which saw Marc Gasol score 20 and Van Vleet 15 on top of Siakam’s team-high 32.
Only Van Vleet’s 17 rose to the level of impacting Game 2 and the team’s overall shotty shooting (37.2% overall, 28.9 from three) in the game was particularly jarring in the third-quarter run that saw GSW run off 18 points to start the second half, putting Toronto in the kind of catch-up position it would want to stay away from over the remainder of the series.
“Third quarter we didn’t play well enough. We missed too many shots,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry told ESPN after Game 2. “They got out in transition and got a little confidence going. We lost the game there.”
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR