Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Yes, the Golden State Warriors are the favorites to three-peat in the NBA Finals. They have been here before.
However, Toronto is not Cleveland; the Raptors are believers. After all, they did win Game One 118-109 in Toronto to end Golden State’s six playoff game winning streak.
History has leaned heavily on the winner of Game One of the NBA Finals. Teams that win the first game have a 51-21 series record in previous Finals (.708). Home teams that win Game One as the Raptors did have a 43-12 (.782) series record. However, teams that win Game Three of the NBA Finals when the series is 1-1 have a 31-7 record (.816).
The Warriors — without back-to-back Finals MVP Kevin Durant, now out for seven straight playoffs games because of a right calf muscle injury — did what great teams do: they won Game Two on the road 109-104. They have grabbed the all-important home-court advantage.
The Warriors trailed at the half 59-54, but exploded in the third quarter and outscored the Raptors 18-0, winning the quarter 34-21. They held on to win despite not scoring for over five minutes in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors actually outscored Toronto 20-0 from the end of the first half into the third quarter, which is the longest scoring run on record in an NBA Finals game since the NBA/ABA merger (1976-77).
For those who think it’s an automatic win for the Warriors now that they have secured the home court in Oakland for Game Three and Four Wednesday and Friday, slow your roll! Let me remind you that the Raptors trailed 2-0 to Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference Finals and reeled off four straight wins.
The Warriors are deep and experienced, that’s why they have survived without Durant. But now guard Klay Thompson is hurt; he scored 25 points to lead the Warriors in Game Two.
Thompson injured his left hamstring and did not finish the game. He’s listed as questionable for Game Three as the Finals shift to Oakland.
Plus, the Warriors will not have key reserve Kevon Looney, who was also injured in Game Two. Looney scored nine points in Game One. He has been ruled out of Game Three with a fracture in his rib cage.
Injuries to Durant, Thompson, and Looney have the Warriors’ boat to the title taking on water. Rough sailing ahead?
Final Four Fun Facts
–The Warriors and Raptors have now played four times during the regular season, and in the playoffs, the Raptors are 3-1.
-This is the final year the Warriors will be playing in Oracle Arena in Oakland, before moving to San Francisco and their new state-of-the-art arena on the oceanfront.
-Raptors star Kawhi Leonard made 16 of 16 free throws in Game Two to set a new NBA Finals record. Terry Porter had set the mark 15 of 15 with Portland in the 1990 Finals.
-The Warriors, in winning Game Two in Toronto, have won on the road for the 23rd straight playoff series, extending their NBA playoff record.