Written by Graeme & Vin
It’s not the NBA playoff finals everyone expected, but tonight will see the beginning of the Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors series to crown the 2019 NBA Champions.
The Golden State Warriors were always expected to get here, but according to NBAFutures.com it was expected to be against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Some sportsbooks even had the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers as higher favourites than the Raptors. Looking at the historical odds, the Raptors were as high as +5500 last year. Yet here they are – just 4 wins away.
Of course despite their incredible performances they are still underdogs to the Warriors.
Here’s our thoughts:
The Warriors Will Win the 2019 NBA Championship:
Looking back, we probably should’ve seen the Raptors coming. Their numbers during the season when the Raptors had everyone on the court were fantastic and they were the better team than the Bucks during that time. Heck, I was at a Bucks game where a full Raptors squad beat the Bucks and it looked a lot like some of the games in that series.
They now play one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history in the Finals and we’ll have to see how they do here. On the one hand, we don’t know anything about Kevin Durant‘s injury situation so there is a chance. If he comes back for game two and looks like himself, the Raptors don’t have a chance. If he’s out for more, we’ll see.
I have to lean towards the Warriors though. Their brand of offense is virtually unguardable when these guys are clicking. They move the ball so well and set the right screens, the always seem to find an open shot for Stephen Curry. The Raptors do have a Kawhi Leonard who can just take the ball out of your hand at any point, but they should be in constant motion to keep their guards away from him.
The Warriors aren’t Kawhi proof by any means, he’s going to have some games, but Curry and Klay Thompson are going to get their shots off.
The series starts in Toronto and that is the first time that has happened to the Warriors in their run. You’d think this would be for the Raps, but this Warriors team feeds off of new challenges. They are hearing the stories about starting on the road and the long lay-off and they are chomping at the bit. I think the Warriors +1 in game one is a nice play based on that. This is a challenge for Golden State while this is the first time the Raps have been on this stage.
For the Raptors to have a chance, it’s going to take a lot of Kawhi. One of my favorite bets in the series is Kawhi Over 30.5 points per game in the series. I don’t trust any other player on this team to put up points, I can see him being at least 32 per game.
Even if that happens though, I just can’t bring myself to take the Raps in the series. I believe Durant will be back at some point. I believe that Curry will get his shots and stay hot. I believe that the Raptors key players will fade in this moment. That’s why I’m betting a double result: Golden State Wins Game 1 and the series.
The Raptors Will Win The NBA Championship
Graeme: I live in Canada but I’m not a Raptors fan. Despite that, I watch them and follow them more closely than most teams simply because I’m in Canada and I see more of their media every day etc.
It’s an interesting time here. People who I’ve not heard a peep from during the regular season about the Raptors are now suddenly diehards. Happens with the Jays too.
Bandwagons can be nauseating, but they can also be good things. The energy that the Raptors fans bring will be absolutely insane. The whole country is basically behind them. When you’re outskilled – as the Raptors are – that’s something that you need and can feed off.
Of course that sounds good on paper but it’s not always the case. We’ve seen that before with the Raps and the Jays and at times it means squat.
However we’ve seen this Raps team get here in incredible fashion. So many times it all came down to the one man team of Kawhi Leonard, yet they still delivered. Then the rest of the team would step up and goddamn – the Raptors looked good.
Many are comparing this to David vs Goliath but I really don’t think that is the case. The Warriors have shown a few issues this season. Kevin Durant is out, DeMarcus Cousins is still questionable and even if they do slot him back in – that may mess with the flow somewhat.
Raptors meanwhile have Kawhi Leonard, who is one of the best players in the world. Lowry is a solid player too and we’ve seen the rest of the team step up.
Raptors need to get the rebounds going. They have struggled at that in the playoffs so far and that could be a big issue. Warriors haven’t been too hot at the defensive rebounds however so that could cancel things out. The Raptors have did a solid job at limiting the turnovers and we know that’s where the Warriors usually get a big advantage.
This will be the toughest defense that the Warriors have faced – not just in the playoffs but in the finals. And speaking of tough defenses – that Bucks defense was damn tough, but that didn’t stop the Raptors once they got rolling.
What I have learned is that the Raptors take some time to figure it out – but when they do, they’re unstoppable. Not just the Bucks series but also the 76ers series. Granted that series was 7 games but you saw the Raps figure it out after 3 games and really tie them down in Game 4 and 5.
Do I think the Warriors are overall the better team, and deserved favourites?
Do I think the Raptors are worth the bet, considering the skill, the passion and oh yes – the elite game changing abilities of Kawhi?
Yes. Raptors to win the series. They’ll take the Warriors to their limits..