Warriors

Why Raptors are better matchup for Warriors in NBA Finals than Bucks

Why Raptors are better matchup for Warriors in NBA Finals than Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo, or Kawhi Leonard?

Khris Middleton, or Pascal Siakam?

Brook Lopez, or Marc Gasol?

Eric Bledsoe, or Kyle Lowry?

The Warriors know they will face either the Bucks or Raptors for the 2019 NBA Championship, but as for which team presents the tougher matchup, it's a toss-up.

Just look at the current state of the Eastern Conference finals. Milwaukee looked absolutely dominant, winning the first two games at home before the script flipped entirely in Games 3 and 4 in Toronto.

The result? A series that is now tied at two games apiece. The Bucks and Raptors appear quite evenly matched, and it's anyone's guess as to who will ultimately prevail out of the East.

In making quick work of the Blazers in the Western Conference finals, the Warriors left themselves plenty of time to rest up before the Finals begin. They'll have more than a week in between games, offering adequate time to ponder questions such as: which opponent would be a better matchup for Golden State?

While the margin between the two teams is razor-thin, there's reason to believe the Warriors would match up slightly better with the Raptors than they would the Bucks.

There were only two teams in the league that ranked in the top five in both offensive and defensive rating during the regular season: The Bucks and Raptors. Milwaukee ranked marginally better than Toronto in both categories, and they've maintained their close correlation into the playoffs, where the Bucks and Raptors rank first and second, respectively, in defensive rating.

The Bucks, however, are averaging 111.2 points per 100 possessions during postseason play -- fourth among all playoff teams -- compared to 107.5 for the Raptors, which ranks ninth.

Still, those playoff numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt, as they've been accrued against different opponents. The Bucks finished with the best record in the league during the regular season, so they had a somewhat easier path to the Eastern Conference finals than the Raptors did.

Milwaukee swept Detroit in the first round, and then after a brief hiccup in Game 1 against the Celtics, finished off Boston in five games. Meanwhile, Toronto dropped their very first game of the playoffs to the Magic before eliminating Orlando in five games, and then only narrowly advanced to the Eastern Conference finals after perhaps the most dramatic game-winning shot in NBA playoff history in Game 7 against Philadelphia.

As such, the Raptors played three more games than the Bucks on their way to the conference finals, and are guaranteed to have played at least two more playoff games than Golden State should they meet in the Finals.

So, the Warriors would have a slightly larger collective "load" advantage against the Raptors than they would against the Bucks, but again, it's minimal. That said, the fact that Golden State will have nine days of rest before the Finals begin -- while the Eastern Conference representative could have as few as two, -- could exacerbate the Dubs' advantage.

[RELATED: Raptors tying series with Bucks furthers Dubs' advantage]

Both teams excel on both ends of the court. Both are led by legitimate MVP candidates, two of the very best talents the game has to offer. Both finished with better regular-season records than the Warriors, so both would have homecourt advantage over Golden State.

So why the Raptors?

As we know, rotations shorten in the playoffs and typically more so the deeper in postseason play. The Warriors had the luxury of extending their rotation against the inferior Blazers, but that won't be the same case against either the Bucks or Raptors.
And the Bucks' shortened rotation appears slightly more threatening to Golden State than the Raptors'.

Milwaukee likely would trot out a nine-man main rotation for the Finals, whereas it might be difficult for Toronto to find that many playable guys in a series against Golden State. Of those nine Bucks players, more than half of them shot better than 35 percent from 3-point range. The Raptors have only four such players on their entire roster.

Two of the Bucks players that fell short of that 35-percent plateau are Antetokounmpo and Bledsoe, who -- aside from being extremely proficient interior scorers -- were both named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team on Wednesday. Leonard was the Raptors' sole representative on either of the all-defensive teams, joining Golden State's Draymond Green and Klay Thompson on the Second Team.

It's not a big difference, but at this point in the postseason, that makes plenty of sense. The best teams are supposed to advance, and clearly, they have. Whichever team comes out of the East will certainly pose more problems for Golden State than the Blazers did. The Raptors might be a slightly better matchup for the Warriors, but if you think the Dubs are going to waltz to their third consecutive league title, you're kidding yourself.

NBA rumors: Klay Thompson, Warriors will meet at outset of free agency

NBA rumors: Klay Thompson, Warriors will meet at outset of free agency

The Warriors introduced their three 2019 NBA Draft picks on Monday afternoon.

At the end of the press conference, Warriors GM Bob Myers answered "yes" when asked if he has formal plans to sit down with Klay Thompson to discuss the future.

We learned some more details on Wednesday afternoon, courtesy Shams Charania of The Athletic:

The Warriors and free-agent All-Star Klay Thompson will meet in L.A. this week at the outset of free agency, league sources said. Should the Warriors enter the meeting with the five-year, $190 million maximum contract, both sides expect a quick agreement, according to sources.

Free agency officially opens on Sunday at 3 p.m. PT.

As ESPN's Zach Lowe said on Tuesday: "That max offer hasn't been communicated to [Klay] that it's for sure coming ... just because they haven't communicated that the max is coming doesn't mean it's not coming. In fact, I would be shocked -- given what he has meant to their organzation -- if it didn't come."

And as ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said: "You can offer your own free agent a deal at any point here. That 5-year, $190 million max offer -- if it's not there for Klay Thompson on Sunday at 6:01 p.m. Eastern, the Warriors can then expect him to go out and take a meeting, meetings."

The biggest contract the five-time All-Star can get with any other franchise is about $141 million over four seasons.

[RELATEDWhy Iguodala believes KD, Klay will re-sign with Warriors]

Klay -- who is expected to undergo surgery to repair the torn ACL in his left knee at some point this week -- will turn 30 years old on Feb. 8.

He is expected to miss a large portion (if not all) of next season.

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr gives update on assistant Ron Adams' job status

Warriors coach Steve Kerr gives update on assistant Ron Adams' job status

Last weekend, the Lakers received permission to speak with Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams about a potential role with the organization.

Has the 71-year-old told Golden State coach Steve Kerr that he will be back with the Dubs next season?

"Basically," Kerr told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami on Wednesday. "We talked about the LA situation. I called him to tell him that they had asked permission and that we would grant it.

"And so I don't know if they've spoken with him yet, and I don't know what his final answer would be. I don't even know what they would be offering him.

"But my feeling is that Ron will want to come back, and we want him back. So we'll see how it all shakes out."

Adams joined Kerr's coaching staff in 2014 and is widely considered one of the top assistant coaches in the NBA.

"I will never ever deny anybody permission to speak with one of my assistants," Kerr explained to The Athletic. "I don't understand that philosophy. If somebody comes along with an offer that one of my assistants wants to take, then I'm gonna let him go.

"Why would I keep them from going after something that they believe in? And if they would rather be somewhere else, I'm not gonna stop them from going."

After beginning his coaching career at Fresno Pacific College, Adams has been in the NBA since 1992. He's worked for the Spurs, 76ers, Bucks, Bulls, Thunder, Celtics and Warriors.

[RELATEDWillie Green leaving Warriors for job with Suns]

The Fresno Pacific graduate is lauded for his defensive mind.

"Ron's a huge part of our staff, and we've grown very close," Kerr said. "Beyond basketball, I look forward to seeing Ron every day and just talking about life.

"I know he's very happy living in the Bay, so I hope that he's here for many years."

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