The Toronto Raptors got everything they could have out of their five starters and offset a career night from Stephen Curry to take control of the Finals with a 2-1 lead after Wednesday’s 123-109 win over the Warriors on the road.
The Raptors got a playoff team-record 106 points from their five starters, as all five of them scored in double digits, led by Kawhi Leonard’s 30 points, seven rebounds, six assists, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers on 9-of-17 shooting. Kawhi also hit 10-of-11 free throws, and continues to look like one of the best players in the league, despite playing at less than 100 percent due to a left knee issue, which apparently stems from overcompensating for the right quad injury he dealt with last season. If ‘Playoff Kawhi’ is this good at whatever health percentage he truly is, it’s a little scary to think what he could do if he were at 100 percent.
Kyle Lowry, who took issue with a fan after crashing into the front row late in the game, bounced back nicely with 23 points, four rebounds, nine assists, a steal, a block and a five 3-pointers on 8-of-16 shooting in 43 minutes. Lowry hadn’t scored more than 13 points and hit just 6-of-20 shots in the first two games of this series, but came through in a big way tonight. Many people had been calling for Fred VanVleet to get more minutes, and FVV was solid tonight with 11 points, three 3-pointers, three rebounds, two assists and three steals off the bench, but Lowry hit some huge buckets and helped control the game, despite giving up a monster line to Stephen Curry. Danny Green hit 6-of-10 shots (all 3-pointers) for 18 points, five boards, a steal and a block, and Pascal Siakam got off to a hot start and hit 8-of-16 shots for 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists, looking more like the guy we saw in Game 1 (14-of-17 shots, 32 points), and less like the guy who hit just 5-of-18 shots in Game 2 for 12 points.
And finally, Marc Gasol hit 6-of-11 shots and a 3-pointer for 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists in his 26 minutes to round out the scoring for the starters. The only bench player to score, besides FVV, was Serge Ibaka, who had six points, five rebounds, two steals and six blocks in his 22 minutes. The six points make it easy to overlook Ibaka while glancing at the box score, but the five boards, two steals and six blocks in such limited minutes are pretty ridiculous, and he proved to be a difference maker for the Raptors. The Raps now have home-court advantage in the series, but the Warriors could be on the verge of getting a little more healthy, which could throw in a wrench in Toronto’s early plans for a parade at Jurassic Park.
The Warriors got a career night from Stephen Curry, who had a playoff career-high 47 points after scoring 17 in the first quarter and 25 by halftime of Wednesday’s Game 3 loss. Curry finished with eight rebounds, seven dimes, two steals and six 3-pointers on 14-of-31 shooting, and also hit 13-of-14 free throws. Curry only had three turnovers, and was fantastic, but the Raptors were able to match nearly every big shot he hit, and Curry didn’t have a lot of support from his teammates. Curry had the playoff game of his life, yet all the Warriors could do was hang around in the game, and never really threaten to win it.
But as much as Curry’s heroics were a storyline for the Warriors, the fact they were without Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney were a bigger story. Looney’s done for the rest of the Finals with a fractured collarbone, and that’s a huge loss for the Warriors, who will have to rely heavily on guys like Andrew Bogut, Jordan Bell and Jonas Jerebko, who combined to score 14 points in Game 3. The good news for the Warriors is that there’s a chance that both Thompson and Durant could play in Friday’s Game 4, which is now a must-win game for GSW. Thompson missed the first playoff game of his career last night with a left hamstring injury, while Durant (right calf) is expected to go through 5-on-5 drills in a “light practice” on Thursday in hopes of being cleared to play on Friday. To quote the movie Silver Linings Playbook, ‘if it’s me reading the signs,’ I’m thinking both of them will be out there for Game 4. As I said above, the Warriors are basically in must-win mode at this point, as another home loss on Friday would put them in a 3-1 hole with two more games to be played in Toronto, so it will be an all-hands-on-deck situation for Game 4. And make no mistake – the Warriors were missing Thompson greatly, as he’s not only one of their best offensive players, but also one of their best defensive players, as well.
Draymond Green had his double-double streak stopped at six, as he hit 6-of-14 shots and two 3-pointers for 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. The box score only shows four turnovers for Green, but when I was watching the game, I felt like he made dangerous pass after dangerous pass, and was trying to force things a bit. Which is understandable with so many regulars out with an injury.
Andre Iguodala was the only other Warrior in double digits with 11 points, six rebounds, three assists, a steal and two 3-pointers in 31 minutes. Iguodala has been starting for Durant, while Shawn Livingston got the call last night for Thompson. Livingston only played 17 minutes and hit 1-of-4 shots for four points, two rebounds and two assists, further hammering home just how much the Dubs missed Klay last night.
The Warriors’ fifth starter was DeMarcus Cousins, who went off in Game 2 for 11 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two blocks in 28 minutes, but he never got it going in Game 3. Boogie finished with just four points on 1-of-7 shooting, along with three rebounds, two assists and a steal in 19 minutes. And as if the Warriors don’t have enough problems, there was this hidden tidbit from the AP’s game recap: “DeMarcus Cousins went to the locker room late in the game to be checked but (Steve) Kerr expects him to be fine.” I have no idea what was ailing him, but given the fact that he recently returned from his serious quad injury, I’m guessing it’s leg related. For now I’m going to assume that Boogie is good to go for Game 4, but I’ll also be keeping an eye on the Rotoworld News Feed to find out if there’s anything more to this than a simple trip to the locker room.
The Warriors still have no reason to panic, as they’re simply one win in Toronto away from taking control of the series, but if they don’t get healthy and win in dominant fashion on Friday, they could be in real trouble. And while the Raptors have to be psyched about holding the 2-1 lead and taking a game at Oracle, they won’t have much time to enjoy the win. It’s starting to feel like this one’s going to be a seven-game classic, but the Warriors will have to get healthy in a hurry, or the Raptors might steal another game on Friday and then truly be in the driver’s seat in this series.