TORONTO - About an hour after his team dropped Game 1 of the NBA Finals to the Toronto Raptors, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green was in a giddy mood.
Heading out of the visitor's locker room, he zig-zagged through a back corridor in Scotiabank Arena like he owned the place, dapping up any familiar face in sight. First, his Nike rep Adrian Stelly, followed by a few well-known reporters and a friend with basketball in tow before following the lead of Golden State's head of media relations Raymond Ridder with the stroll of a man in his fifth straight NBA Finals.
Green's confidence after Thursday's 118-109 loss to the Raptors matched the rest of the Warriors locker room in the moments following the game. For six months, Golden State has toed the line between championship execution and bottom-feeding complacency, but, as Thursday evening proved, their confidence won't be shaken, no matter how bleak the immediate future may look.
"I like where we're at," Green said. "The way the game went tonight, we always had a chance and we didn't play very well at all."
In some ways, Green is right. Despite holding Kawhi Leonard to just 5-of-14 from the field, Golden State allowed Toronto to shoot 50.6 percent from the field, led by forward Pascal Siakam, who scored 32 points on 14-of-17 from the field. However, while the Raptors outplayed the champs Thursday evening, Golden State never seemed out of it. When Toronto took a 79-68 lead with 4:19 to go in the third quarter, the Warriors used a 13-6 run to cut the lead to four.
Minutes later, when the Raptors pushed their lead back to eight in the fourth quarter, Golden State used a quick 6-1 run to cut the lead to three with ten minutes to go. Subtle positives in an otherwise dismal performance have the Warriors certain Game 2 on Sunday will be different.
"I like the vibe," said Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who scored 34 points in Game 1. "I say it a lot but I like the vibe that we have in the locker room in terms of everybody focusing on what they need to do differently and the overall energy bump that we need to have and then go steal Game 2."
"We didn't play very well tonight at all," added Green, who finished with six of Golden State's 17 turnovers. "And we still had a chance the entire game."
Adding to Golden State's conundrum was time. Entering Thursday's opening game, the Warriors had nine full days of no postseason games, three of which were taken off completely. While the rest helped the Golden State heal their battered roster -- including DeMarcus Cousins, who played his first game in a month -- no amount of team scrimmages can replicate a game, let alone an NBA Finals matchup.
For the first two quarters, the Warriors seemed tired, evidenced by late rotations that allowed the Raptors to shoot 50 percent in the first half. Through 24 minutes, only Curry reached double digits in scoring for the Warriors, shooting just 3-of-10 from the field.
When the Warriors weren't trying to catch their breath, they were feeling out a relatively unknown opponent. In the first regular-season matchup between the two teams, Kevin Durant scored 51 points in an overtime loss, while Curry sat out with an injury. Less than two weeks later, the Raptors beat the Warriors by 20 with Leonard on the bench.
"This is a team we really haven't played," Green said. "The first time we played them Steph or I and myself didn't play. [The] second time we played them, Kawhi didn't play. So this is essentially our first time playing this team."
Even with the loss, Golden State confidence hasn't shaken, but as much of the season has shown, the same swagger that's built a budding dynasty has made way for the complacency that's hindered them since training camp opened. The riddle has extended to the postseason. In the first round, after blowing out the LA Clippers in Game 1, Golden State blew a 31-point lead at home in Game 2. In the next round, after going up 2-0 against the Rockets, it took six games and a second-half comeback in Game 6 to finish off their nemesis. In a season that's nearly everything, Thursday's loss seemed almost prophetic.
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Still, Green is confident his back corridor walk in the wee hours of Sunday evening will be after a win.
"We leave this game feeling as good as you possibly can feel knowing that, yeah," Green said. "We lost but I think we figured some things out, and we'll be better next game."