Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observations on the state of the Dubs.
For the first time in the Steve Kerr era, the Warriors played an opponent in the NBA Finals that was not the Cleveland Cavaliers. They also played their first Game 1 on the road, and also lost Game 1 of the Finals for the first time. That is a lot of firsts, so it is no wonder why there is a segment of fans that are concerned about the Warriors being in foreign territory (pun intended).
The question is, did you expect the Warriors to sweep the NBA Finals? If not, then it is perfectly reasonable to think that the Raptors would win at least one game at home. The Raptors are a great team, comprised of long, athletic, skilled players that are in unison on defense and always pushing the ball in transition.
In Game 1, they showed to be exactly that. Toronto forced 17 turnovers, leading to 17 points, while scoring 24 fast break points. The Warriors, meanwhile, seemingly played with some rust after such a long layoff. They were simply lazy and ineffective in their transition defense, and were often scattered and confused in their defensive rotations, leading to multiple wide-open Raptors three's.
More often than not, Game 1 of any playoff series is a "feel out" game, where both teams learn how the other plays. The Warriors had very little experience playing against the Raptors, so it is not crazy to think they were caught off-guard a bit. What the Warriors have proven throughout their historic run, however, is that it is much easier to win a "feel out" game when at home. Dating back to the 2015 NBA Finals, the Warriors had some serious dogfights with the Cavaliers in Game 1's, but pulled out victorious in the end, partially due to their home-court advantage.
In 2015, the Warriors won Game 1 of the Finals in overtime after Kyrie Irving suffered a serious knee injury. In 2016, the Warriors beat the Cavs at home in Game 1 despite the Splash Brothers struggling from the field. Game 1 in 2017 was a bit of an outlier, as the Warriors came out and routed Cleveland. Last year's Game 1 was the infamous J.R. Smith debacle that eventually led to the Warriors narrowly escaping with an overtime victory. The Warriors won all four games at home, but a few of the games were a lot closer than many remember.
Last night's game was a tightly contested game until the very end. Despite their defensive struggles, the Warriors fought and clawed to stay in the game. Behind a raucous Toronto crowd that was bringing incredible energy, the Raptors pulled out the victory.
The Warriors are quite confident that they have learned from their Game 1 mistakes, and they believe that they're in a good position to win Game 2 and steal home-court advantage.
With Kevin Durant's rehab coming along and DeMarcus Cousins getting his conditioning back, we will know a lot more about this series after Sunday's game. So until then, relax and enjoy a fun series.