Raptors 105 – Warriors 92 (Toronto leads series 3-1)
Kawhi Leonard powered the Raptors to an impressive Game 4 win over the Warriors on Friday, racking up 36 points on 11-of-22 shooting to go with 12 rebounds, five 3-pointers, two assists, four steals, one block and zero turnovers across 41 minutes of floor time. He essentially single-handedly kept Toronto in the game through the first half of action with most of his teammates struggling, and he was simply unstoppable during the third quarter, dropping in 17 of his 36 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Leonard also did a really nice job of getting to the line, finishing a perfect 9-of-9 from the charity stripe to give him a sterling 69.3 true shooting percentage on the evening.
The Raptors have been undefeated at Oracle Arena this season, and they now hold the dreaded 3-1 lead in the series, a Finals’ deficit that has only been overcome once in NBA history (2016 when LeBron James’ Cavs upset the Warriors). If Kawhi’s Raptors are able to pull off this upset, he will have stopped two teams (Miami and Golden State) from completing a 3-peat – which will be just another remarkable feat to add to his legacy.
Serge Ibaka was Toronto’s second-leading scorer in the win, coming through with 20 points in 22 minutes off the bench, to go with one 3-pointer, four rebounds, one assist, two swats and one turnover. He did a really nice job of picking his spots in the offense, only missing once through the first half of action, and he finished the game on 9-of-12 shooting from the field and he drilled his lone free throw attempt. This was his first game of the Finals reaching double figures in the scoring department, and the Raptors have now gone 7-0 this postseason when Serge scores 10-plus points.
Pascal Siakam didn’t have the most efficient game, going 6-of-14 from the field and 0-of-2 from 3-point range, but he did manage to go 7-of-8 from the charity stripe and finished with 19 points, five rebounds, one assist and one turnover in 41 minutes. Marc Gasol (3-of-8), Danny Green (1-of-8) and Kyle Lowry (3-of-12) all struggled from an efficiency standpoint, but as a team they were locked in on defense, and Lowry was strictly business when discussing the win after the game.
Fred VanVleet again started over a struggling Danny Green after halftime and finished with 12 points, two 3-pointers, four rebounds, six assists and two turnovers in 29 minutes. Bringing FVV into the starting unit gives the Raptors some more speed and another ball handler, and it also allows Lowry to not expend as much energy on the defensive end of the floor as VanVleet then matches up with Stephen Curry. I imagine that Green will remain in the starting unit for Game 5, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see these two again switch up their roles after halftime, particularly if Green is struggling.
FVV also got cracked in the face via Shaun Livingston’s elbow on one of Livingston’s shot attempts in the third quarter, which knocked out one of his teeth and opened up a gash on his face that required seven stitches to close. He was available to return, though, and was cleared of any concussion-like symptoms, so he should be fine for Game 5 on Monday.
While it’s true that only one team has ever come back from being down 3-1 in the Finals (and Golden State was the one team to blow it), the Dubs did find themselves in this same situation during the 2016 Western Conference Finals and emerged victorious in seven games over the Thunder (in Kevin Durant’s final season there). “You just try to win one game,” said Steve Kerr when asked about his approach moving forward. “That’s what we did a few years ago against OKC.”
Klay Thompson scored a team-high 28 points on 11-of-18 shooting (6-of-10 from distance) to go with three boards and two assists over 42 minutes. He did appear to tweak his hamstring midway through the third quarter, but he played through it, and there’s no way he’ll be missing Game 5 on Monday with the Dubs in a do-or-die scenario.
Stephen Curry netted 27 points on 9-of-22 shooting (7-of-8 from the line) to go with two triples, four rebounds, six assists, one steal and three turnovers in 43 minutes. While it’s a quality stat line, Curry did seem somewhat off, missing his first five 3-pointers, and finishing 2-of-9 from beyond the arc. The Raptors have done an incredible job of making things difficult for Steph, harassing him with very physical play off the ball and constantly trapping him, essentially taking the ball out of his hands as much as possible. Curry rocked a 32.1 usage during the Western Conference Finals without Kevin Durant, but he was just at 28.6 on Friday night.
Speaking of Durant, he missed his ninth consecutive game on Friday night and it remains unclear if he’ll be ready for Game 5 in Toronto on Monday. "There's been hope he'd come back the whole series. That's not going to change now,” said Draymond Green after the loss. “We hope to have him. We don't make that final call. He don't really make that final call. His body will tell him." Durant initially suffered his calf injury on May 8, which puts him at about midway through Week 4 of being out. The Dubs never offered an official timetable, but calf injuries can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to heal, so there’s a chance he won’t be ready until Game 6.
Draymond Green fell just one rebound shy of recording a triple-double, finishing with 10 points, 12 dimes, nine boards, one steal, two swats and five turnovers in 41 minutes. "I've been on the wrong side of 3-1 before,” said Green after the defeat. “Why not make our own history?" He also picked up his fifth technical foul of the postseason in this one, something that is unlikely to be rescinded, so if he picks up two more of those he’ll be dealt a mandatory one-game suspension.
DeMarcus Cousins had another rough outing, posting just six points, four rebounds, one assist, two blocks and an unfortunate four turnovers through 15 minutes as a starter. I take my hat off to Cousins for getting himself healthy enough after that quad tear to be able to suit up for the Finals, but that quad is clearly still bothering him, as he’s quite slow to get back on defense and is missing bunnies regularly. The turnovers were the largest issue for Boogie in this one, but that was a team-wide issue for Golden State, as they finished with an uncharacteristic 17 turnovers to Toronto’s nine.
Kevon Looney, who was also obviously still bothered by the collar bone that he fractured during Game 2 (last Sunday), still found a way to be productive in his 20 minutes off the bench, finishing with 10 points, six rebounds, one assist and one turnover. Jordan Bell picked up a DNP-CD with Looney back in action, and Andrew Bogut saw just 11 minutes off the bench, and those are trends I’d expect to continue.
The Dubs are in a tough situation, they need to win three in a row starting with a game in Toronto, and you know the atmosphere in Canada will be electric on Monday night. When Kawhi stopped the Miami Heat from completing their 3-peat back in 2014, his Spurs squad also accomplished their goal in just five games. Could history be set to repeat itself?