TORONTO -- One game into the NBA Finals, the Warriors are in a wholly unfamiliar place.
Behind their opponent.
Before a roaring throng Thursday night inside and outside Scotiabank Arena, the Warriors spent most of Game 1 trailing the Raptors, never catching up in the second half, and taking a 118-109 loss.
This is the first time under coach Steve Kerr that the Warriors failed to open The Finals with a victory -- and also their first time they’ve played a Game 1 away from Oracle Arena.
Here are three takeaways from a frustrating night for the Warriors in Canada:
Defense was the difference
It didn’t take long for the Warriors to realize they weren’t facing the Clippers or the Rockets or the Trail Blazers. Toronto’s defense is at another level. Maybe two.
The Raptors entered the game ranked second in postseason defensive rating. They’re long, they’re hyperactive and they function as a unit. They held the Warriors to 43.6 percent shooting from the field and 34 field goals -- both lows for this postseason.
Individually, only Stephen Curry (34 points, 8 of 18 from the field, 4 of 9 from deep, 14 of 14 from the free-throw line) and Klay Thompson (21 points, 8 of 17, 3 of 6 and 2 of 2) could muster up much offense. Open looks were, quite simply, hard to come by for the Warriors.
Ravaged up front
The Warriors could not have known they would be the victims of an attack by rangy Raptors power forward Pascal Siakam, who spent his evening punishing the back-to-back defending champs.
Siakam scored a career playoff-high 32 points on 14-of-17 shooting. The 6-foot-9 second-year pro scored in the paint. He scored beyond the arc. He scored on defensive ace Draymond Green. He scored on others who dared to invade his space.
Siakam also had some help from his frontcourt partners. Center Marc Gasol kept Toronto’s offense afloat with 14 first-half points and totaled 20. Small forward Kawhi Leonard, the most feared Raptor of all, put in 23 points.
Toronto’s starting frontcourt outscored that of Golden State 75-18. That number, as much as any related to the game, tells the Warriors they are in for a fight.
The return of Boogie
DeMarcus Cousins was upgraded from questionable to available Thursday morning. The Warriors center didn’t start (Jordan Bell was tapped for that), but he opened the second quarter with his first appearance since April 15, when he sustained a torn left quadriceps muscle in Game 2 of the first round.
Cousins played eight minutes, totaling three points (0 of 2 from the field, 3 of 4 from the line), zero rebounds, two assists and two steals. He did not look as if he didn’t belong. He moved well enough; he’s never going to be a gazelle.
There is an upside here for Cousins. He got his first sip of the NBA Finals without, for the most part, hurting the Warriors at either end. If he shows incremental improvement, the Warriors should be satisfied.