Warriors

Warriors vs. Raptors preview: Who has edge in 2019 NBA Finals matchup?

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NBC Sports Bay Area

Warriors vs. Raptors preview: Who has edge in 2019 NBA Finals matchup?

With the Toronto Raptors beating the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night, the Warriors' NBA Finals matchup is confirmed. 

The best-of-seven series will pair the back-to-back defending NBA champions against Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Drake (possibly) and a Raptors organization fresh off clinching the first Finals appearance in its 24-year history. 

For the first time during their current five-year run, the Warriors will not have home-court advantage, and they could be without injured starters DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Durant at the onset of the series. 

For now, here are the biggest things to watch heading into the series, which starts Thursday night in Toronto.

Projected starting lineups 

Warriors
F Andre Iguodala
F Draymond Green
C Andrew Bogut
G Klay Thompson
G Stephen Curry

Raptors 
F Pascal Siakam
F Kawhi Leonard
C Marc Gasol
G Kyle Lowry
G Danny Green

The Warriors will be without Durant for at least the start of the series with a calf injury. Cousins, who began practicing with the team this week, could make his return from a torn quad in Game 1 if he continues to progress in his rehab.

Still, the Warriors have the healthy Splash Brother duo of Curry and Thompson, who combined to score nearly 57 points per game in the Western Conference finals.

Meanwhile, Leonard has been productive all postseason for Toronto, averaging 31.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 18 games. Following a breakout season, Siakam was a dependable second scorer in the conference finals. Lowry is a reliable regular-season contributor but has routinely struggled in the playoffs, and a thumb injury could hamper his production. 

Edge: Draw (until Durant comes back)

Bench

Like the Warriors, the Raptors have struggled to get contributions from their second unit this season, finishing the regular season 24th in bench scoring.

The postseason hasn't been much better for Toronto, which averaged just 25.1 bench points per game through the first three playoff rounds. Former Warrior Patrick McCaw signed with the Raptors midseason after declining an offer from the Warriors and having a brief stint in Cleveland. However, he's averaging just 2.1 points per game across the regular season and playoffs. 

With Durant out, the Warriors have gotten contributions from their bench. Jordan Bell, Quinn Cook and Kevon Looney have stepped up in particular, and all three will be counted on in the Finals. 

Edge: Warriors

[RELATED: Iguodala alludes to retirement when asked about workload]

Coaching

Although he wasn't nominated, Toronto's Nick Nurse is putting together a Coach of the Year-worthy campaign. He helped guide the Raptors to 58 wins in his first season, despite Leonard missing 22 games.

Under Nurse's tutelage, the Raptors finished with the league's fifth-best offense, and he oversaw a defense that largely shut down Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo in the final two games of the Eastern Conference finals. 

However, Warriors coach Steve Kerr has presided over the best six-year run in NBA history, and is on pace to win his fourth championship in five years. 

Edge: Warriors

Warriors star Steph Curry has fun playing pick-up basketball with kids

Warriors star Steph Curry has fun playing pick-up basketball with kids

They say in order to be the best, you must compete against the best.

If you go by that logic, the kids you're about to see may have a bright future -- they're competing against Steph Curry.

Recent footage surfaced of a few kids playing a pickup game with the Warriors star, and these kids could hang:

During the pick-up game, you can hear Steph chatting it up like it's an NBA game, saying "I got your help" and celebrating after a 3-pointer.

He didn't take it lightly on the young ones.

Curry, of course, showed off some of his masterful shooting, ball-handling and footwork during the scrimmage.

[RELATED: Curry cements himself as social justice leader]

Imagine being one of the kids who could add that to their résumés before even reaching high school.

Ex-Warriors Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala chime in on double-team debate

Ex-Warriors Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala chime in on double-team debate

We're talking about pick-up.

Not a game. Not a game. Not a game. We're talking about pick-up.

Ah, yes, the doldrums of the NBA offseason. We have officially arrived. You can tell because the NBA world's focus has drifted to a rather ridiculous topic over the last 24 hours.

It all started when video surfaced of Suns guard Devin Booker getting visibly frustrated as a result of being double-teamed in a pick-up game featuring several other NBA players, including Ben Simmons, Joakim Noah and Trey Lyles.

"Hey bro, we're not doubling in open gym," Booker can be heard saying. "I see that s--t all season. Come on, man. Let's work on our games."

"Yeah, we are," Noah retorted. "It's part of the game." 

On Wednesday morning, Hawks guard Trae Young voiced his thoughts on the subject, aligning himself with his pal Booker.

Young's thoughts have since made the rounds, with numerous former and current NBA scouts and players chiming in. Ex-Warriors star Kevin Durant couldn't resist.

Apparently, this isn't the first time Durant has expressed such feelings. Two of his now-former teammates got under his skin doubling him in a practice (warning: NSFW language).

[RELATED: Kerr wants Livingston involved with Warriors for years]

It's a bit ironic that Iguodala mentioned it being right after the All-Star break, as Twitter detectives have tracked down visual evidence of Durant himself participating in a double-team against Steph Curry in what technically was an exhibition -- the NBA All-Star game.

Durant responded to that tweet, pointing out how that double-team was drawn up by coaches, whereas there aren't typically any in your average pick-up game. That's a fair point, but here's the problem with his reasoning: Bonafide NBA players like Simmons, Noah and Lyles don't need a coach to tell them when, who or how to double-team.

If Booker wants to work on his offensive game in open gym, others should be allowed to work on their defensive game, too, right? And, frankly, wouldn't Booker benefit more in the long run from working on his game against the same kind of defense he actually faces?

If you want to work on your NBA game, then don't be surprised when you encounter NBA defense. Anything else is simply batting practice.