Warriors survive late surge from Raptors, win 127-125.
After beating the Milwaukee Bucks thanks to strong games from Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, the Golden State Warriors (34-9) flew north of the border to take on the red-hot Toronto Raptors (29-11). The Warriors would be getting Stephen Curry back after missing him for two games with a sprained ankle. Steph would be looking to stay hot against the Raptors, as he has averaged 30.2 points, 8.0 assists and shoots 53.4% overall against the Raptors, his best numbers versus any team. The Raptors were coming off a 34-point drubbing of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and were looking to keep rolling against the NBA’s best team. The Warriors would go on to win the game 127-125.
The first quarter saw both teams start off incredibly hot. The Warriors shot the ball at a 73.9% clip overall and 55.6% from three. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson both had 10 points, and looked absolutely locked in. Kevin Durant was close behind with 9 points, hitting several nice shots. The Raptors also started off hot, shooting 48.3% overall, and managed to hang with the Warriors thanks to an incredibly start from DeMar DeRozan. He had 19 points, three rebounds, and two assists, and seemingly could not miss. Even when the teams played good defense, it just didn’t matter because the offense was so incredible. After the first, the Warriors led the Raptors 43-35.
The second quarter saw the Warriors absolutely explode to finish off their highest-scoring half of the year. Their previous high was 78 points, which they did three times, but tonight, they scored 81 on one of the best defenses in the league. Klay Thompson was leading the charge for the Warriors, finishing the half with 20 points on 8-12 shooting, while also picking up two steals. Next up for the Warriors was Kevin Durant, who had 15 points and was the beneficiary of several nice lobs from Steph and Draymond. He missed a dunk in the middle of the quarter that saw the ball get launched all the way past half court, but he made up for it with two alley-oop dunks. Draymond Green also had an incredible half, finishing with 12 points on 4-5 shooting, while dishing out a team-high eight assists. Stephen Curry had a pretty quiet half offensively, only scoring six points, but did a nice job distributing the ball, picking up five assists. The Warriors were just unstoppable, shooting 71.1% percent for the half. It looked like a Varsity vs Junior Varsity game. They also only turned the ball over one time, while dishing out 22 assists as a team. DeMar DeRozan continued to be the only Raptor who could score consistently, finishing the half with 25 points, nearly half of the entire teams’ points. At the half, the Warriors still led the Raptors, 81-54.
In the third quarter, the Warriors started off slow, and they saw their lead get cut from 27 points, to 10 points. They couldn’t make a shot for the majority of the quarter, and were just hacking the Raptors, sending to the line over and over again. As the Raptors began to heat up, so did the Warriors. Kevin Durant hit not one, but two big threes to shift momentum back into the Warriors favor. He finished the quarter with 21 points. Klay Thompson still led the team with 24, but Steph was beginning to creep up with 17 points of his own. Curry’s scoring was not the most impressive though, as many of his points came at the line. The most impressive part of his game was his defense and passing, and he finished the quarter with seven assists and six rebounds, which led the team. The Raptors were still being led by DeRozan, who had 36 as the buzzer sounded. After three quarters, the Warriors led 108-89.
The fourth quarter was incredible. The Warriors blew their lead, allowing the Raptors to get within one-point of them, and then they hit big shot after big shot. The Raptors were spectacular down the stretch, and as the game wound down, their crowd was insane, and it felt like a Finals game, it was incredible. This team just feels a lot different than it has in other years, and I that is because of Demar DeRozan. He finished the game with 42 points, and he was just blisteringly hot all game. The Raptors had some other nice plays down the stretch, including two huge threes from Fred VanVleet. The Warriors hit several big shots when it counted most, and Kevin Durant hit a mid-range jumped to ice the game, right in Drake’s face, so that was pretty funny. He finished with 25 points, which was the second-highest on the Warriors. Klay led the team with 26 points, and Steph finished with 24. The Warriors hung on to win the game 127-125.
To be honest, and this is unrelated to the outcome of today’s game, I think that the most fun NBA Finals matchup this year would be the Warriors against the Raptors. Their crowd was so loud and intense in the second half of today’s game, it was fun to watch. The reactions were real, and it felt like Oracle in May/June, they didn’t have to artificially make everyone louder like the Cavs do, it was incredible. I think the two teams actually match up pretty well too, I mean, as well as a team can match up against the Warriors.
Even though he didn’t score more than 20 points like last game, Draymond Still had an absolutely incredible game. He finished with 14 points and eight assists, all while playing great defense. He often gets overshadowed by the other superstars on the team, but he has been really good over the last couple games. He had a team high in +/- with +24. This was also the first time in his career that he went three straight games without turning the ball over. Klay Thompson led the Warriors in scoring with 26 points, and only hit two threes. Many of his shots had an incredibly high degree of difficulty, and he was just nailing them all night long.
I was a little worried about the Warriors in the fourth quarter, after they blew two huge leads I was convinced that they were going to lose after dropping 81 in the first half. It was nice to see Kerr use some Steph/KD pick and roll down the stretch, because as game five of last years’ finals showed us, that is an unguardable play. It also never gets run, so I am only half convinced that Steve Kerr has said that they can’t run it during the regular season while in the United States, but in Canada they can unleash it. Overall this was a very fun game, we got to see the Warriors’ offense at their best for the first half, and see them step it up in crunch time as the game got close and the crowd got wild. This game had it all, and it was incredibly fun to watch.
The Warriors play next on Monday, January 15 in Cleveland against the Cavaliers at 5 p.m.