WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT
Forsberg: More like Shootcal Siakam
Spicy P might just be a household name now after Pascal Siakam’s monster Game 1. We’ll take a small victory lap and remind you that, amid some terrible preseason predictions, we did tell you Siakam would be the NBA’s most improved, but even we didn’t see Siakam putting up 32 points on 14-of-17 shooting against the Warriors on the Finals stage.
Going into this series, it sorta felt like Kawhi Leonard was going to have to put the Raptors on his shoulders if they were going to be competitive. It was fair to wonder if his young supporting cast might be overwhelmed by the moment. Well, with the benefit of home-court advantage and a raucous crowd, the Raptors got the big night from Siakam and a nice punch off the bench from Fred VanVleet (even as his 3-point shot finally defied him) to help them fend off every Warriors’ charge on Thursday night.
No matter how this series plays out, Siakam is going to be key to however the Raptors evolve in future seasons. He could be a foundational player, the type you try to build around even if Kawhi bolts for Los Angeles. But his trade value would also be higher than just about any young player in the East (maybe even Jayson Tatum) and if the Raptors wanted to roll the dice again by interjecting themselves into the Anthony Davis pursuit, they could certainly make New Orleans think by putting Siakam on the table.
Maybe it would make more sense to just develop Siakam, especially with a couple more cost-controlled seasons, but Masai Ujiri isn’t afraid to get crazy. For now, they can just bask as the 25-year-old introduces himself to a worldwide audience.
Blakely: Pascal Siakam is a problem for the Warriors
The confidence of Kawhi Leonard’s surrounding cast seems to be growing by the day. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the play of Pascal Siakam, who lit up Golden State for 32 points in Toronto’s Game 1 win.
It wasn’t so much that he had it going all game shooting the ball on drives, 3-pointers and few ridiculous heat-check shots. More to the point, Golden State never slowed him down.
And Siakam made his mark defensively as well, as he guarded nine different players who were a combined 6-for-15 shooting against him.
You can’t bank on him being that good night-in, night-out in this series. But the Warriors have to do a better job of limiting his impact if they are to avoid what would be one of the greatest upsets in NBA Finals history.
SO... THAT HAPPENED
"Trash" - Drake pic.twitter.com/MfMZK6R01l— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) May 31, 2019
SO... THAT HAPPENED, PART 2
Raptors fans chant “Paul Pierce sucks” as Paul Pierce eggs them on pic.twitter.com/J60c30D93J— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 31, 2019
NUMBER OF NOTE
14/17, .824 -- Pascal Siakam's shooting performance was the second-best in NBA Finals history for any player with at least 17 FG attempts, behind only Michael Jordan in 1991.
NUMBER OF NOTE, PART 2
12 -- The Warriors' loss snaps an NBA-record streak of 12 straight Game 1 wins, and it was their first loss in Game 1 of the NBA Finals under Steve Kerr. This is the fifth series Golden State has trailed under Kerr, and the Dubs have won the previous four.
THEY SAID IT
"It felt good. "It felt good to be a part of the energy tonight. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't take any of these moments for granted. To be out there on the floor tonight in this atmosphere was an incredible feeling. I'm extremely happy to be a part of it and I enjoyed the moment."
-- DeMarcus Cousins, after scoring two points and two assists in eight minutes, his first game action since tearing his left quad in April 15
- Raptors 118, Warriors 109 (TOR leads series 1-0)
WHAT WE'LL BE WATCHING
Forsberg: Search for a Celtics super fan
Watching Drake get more air time than most players during these NBA playoffs, and then seeing him bark at Draymond Green at the end of Game 1, is a reminder that the Celtics could really use a “global ambassador” who riles up opposing superstars and gives Brad Stevens the occasional shoulder massage.
We’d nominate Donnie Wahlberg but he’s catching all sorts of flak for tweeting about Wahlburgers during the Stanley Cup Final. But between Drake, Spike Lee, and that Alan Horwitz guy in Philly, the Celtics really need to step their superfan game up next season.
Might be the difference in turning this thing around.
Blakely: Durant’s (much-needed) return for Golden State
We saw the return of DeMarcus Cousins to the Golden State lineup. Is Kevin Durant far behind?
Well he’s considered a “longshot” to practice leading up to Game 2 on Sunday, so a best-case scenario likely has Durant returning for Game 3 despite rumblings throughout the league indicating there's a decent chance that we may have seen Durant's last game played in Golden State this season.
Of course the Warriors can always benefit from his scoring, but Durant’s defense might be just as valuable in this series — especially when you consider how he would likely be matched up against Pascal Siakam, who scored 16 of his 32 points while being guarded by Golden State's defensive ace, Draymond Green.
Durant’s length and ability to make Siakam work harder on defense, bode well for slowing down Siakam and even more important, giving the Warriors a chance in Game 2 to even up the series at 1-1 and in doing so, gain home-court advantage.
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