The Toronto Raptors saw what likely would be waiting for them should they make it to the NBA Finals, so they made a move in order to be better equipped for a battle with the Warriors.
On Feb. 7, the Raptors completed a deal to acquire All-Star center Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a 2024 second-round draft pick.
Gasol, 34, was having a down year by his standards, but the Raptors wanted more veteran experience for the big games ahead, and they reportedly had one matchup in mind when they had Gasol shipped up North: DeMarcus Cousins.
Via The Undefeated's Marc Spears:
The Raptors won both regular-season games against the Warriors this season. While Cousins didn’t play in either game, part of the reason that the Raptors acquired Marc Gasol at the trade deadline was in hopes of a potential Finals matchup with Cousins, a source told The Undefeated.
Cousins tore his quadriceps muscle early in Game 2 of the Warriors' first-round NBA playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers and has not played since.
But after six weeks of rehab, head coach Steve Kerr announced Thursday that Cousins will be active for Game 1 of the NBA Finals against Gasol and the Raptors at Scotiabank Arena.
While Cousins will see limited minutes and come off the bench, the Raptors have a big body in Gasol who can match up with him and stop him from punishing Toronto on the interior.
This, of course, could alter Raptors coach Nick Nurse's rotations if he is set on having Gasol bang with Boogie in the paint.
Let the chess match begin.