After two days off the Raptors and Warriors will return to action Wednesday night for Game 3 of the NBA Finals, with the teams tied at one win apiece. For Golden State the time away from game action was welcome, as Steve Kerr’s team is the more banged-up of the two. Klay Thompson (left hamstring strain) and Kevon Looney (collarbone) both underwent MRI’s on Monday, and while the news for Thompson was good that wasn’t the case for Looney.
With the scene shifting to Oakland, below is a quick update on things ahead of Game 3.
Klay Thompson is considered to be questionable for Wednesday night
Thompson, who has yet to miss a playoff game in his NBA career, said following Sunday’s win that he expected to be available to play in Game 3. The MRI confirmed that he strained the left hamstring, which is a bit more severe than the original team report of soreness in the muscle. The All-Star guard was on the court for Golden State’s light workout Tuesday, but all he did was get up some shots at a controlled pace. Thompson will be a game-time decision, and with hamstring issues re-injury could mean a lengthy stretch on the sidelines.
“What we’ll have to determine is that a risk? If he’s plays, are we risking anything,” Kerr said following Tuesday’s practice when asked about Thompson’s status for Game 3. “If the training staff feels good about his ability to go out there and play without making things worse, then he’ll play. It’s literally day-to-day.”
Thompson’s availability will be key on both ends of the floor, as he’s a significant factor for the Warriors on both ends of the floor. In Sunday’s victory he shot 10-of-17 from the field, scoring a team-high 25 points with five rebounds, five assists, one steal and four 3-pointers in 32 minutes. During Game 2 Toronto employed a box-and-one, with Stephen Curry being trailed by Fred VanVleet, and Thompson’s presence can help the Warriors combat any “gimmick” defense that the Raptors throw their way. If the hamstring injury either hampers or sidelines Thompson, that’s one less dependable shooter/scorer on the floor. Not only does that put more pressure on Curry, but it also puts more responsibility on the shoulders of Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins offensively.
Kevon Looney is out indefinitely with a fractured collarbone
Looney, who has played well for the Warriors for much of the postseason, was not as fortunate when it came to the results of his MRI. The scan revealed a non-displaced first costal cartilage fracture on the right side, and the team has declared him to be out indefinitely. The good news is that the fracture, which occurred on a hard fall while Looney challenged a Kawhi Leonard layup during the second quarter of Game 2, is of the non-displaced variety. But it’s still a fracture, and the third-year forward’s season may be done as a result. This will impact the Warriors’ front court rotation, as Looney was on most nights the first reserve big off the bench.
DeMarcus Cousins, who played 28 minutes and was solid in a starting role Sunday night, could be asked to play even more in Game 3. After Looney left Game 2, it was Andrew Bogut who was the first big off the bench in the second half. He played seven minutes, finishing with six points and one rebound. Jonas Jerebko, who played eight minutes in Game 1, played six in Game 2. Looney’s absence also opens the door for Jordan Bell, who after starting the series opener was a DNP-CD on Sunday. Bell played 12 minutes, posting a line of two points, three rebounds and one assist. He’s struggled to produce consistently this season, which is why the second-year forward has struggled to find consistent playing time as either a starter or reserve.
However the rotation shakes out behind Cousins the Warriors aren’t going to need high-scoring efforts. What they will need are solid performances on the boards and in the other non-scoring statistical categories, especially blocked shots and steals.
Kevin Durant (calf) remains out of the lineup
Kevin Durant has still yet to be cleared for contact, with the All-Star forward needing that to happen before the team considers clearing him to play. He continues to receive treatment on the calf, and according to Kerr he did some work at the practice facility after the Warriors’ open workout session at Oracle Arena. With regards to Durant’s status the focus now shifts to Game 4, which is scheduled for Friday night. His absence means that Curry, Thompson, Green and Cousins have more on their plates offensively, with Cousins himself just returning from a quadriceps tear suffered in the first round.
With regards to Green, his usage has increased from 15.2% to 19.7% this postseason when Durant isn’t on the floor, with his assist percentage (27.1% to 31.8%) also rising. However Green’s offensive rating drops nearly three points, from 118.2 to 115.5 when the two aren’t sharing the court. What will also factor into Green’s numbers as a playmaker is the status/play of Thompson, who as noted above is dealing with a strained left hamstring. If Thompson’s healthy enough to play (and be effective), that gives Green another quality scoring option to set up within the Warriors offense. But if Thompson’s either limited or can’t go, not only will Green have one less guy to set up but he’ll also need to do more scoring.
Kyle Lowry aims to be more aggressive in Game 3
Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry didn’t have his best game Sunday, scoring 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting with two assists, one rebound, one steal, three 3-pointers and two turnovers. In the first two games he shot a combined 6-of-20 from the field and 3-of-12 from three, but the bigger concern coming out of Game 2 was the lack of playmaking. Lowry’s two assists were seven fewer than the number he reached in Game 1, a nine-point Toronto victory. On Tuesday the All-Star lead guard said that he plans to be more aggressive Wednesday night after playing a bit passive in Game 2. While Lowry said that he may get up more shots than usual, during the postseason his assist count has been a solid indicator of his effectiveness offensively.
Lowry’s failed to tally at least five assists in three games this postseason, and the Raptors are 0-3 in those games. One of those losses was Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, with Lowry scoring 30 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field with eight rebounds, two assists, one steal and seven three-pointers. Getting more scoring from Lowry would certainly be welcomed by the Raptors, but that’s can’t come at the expense of the All-Star point guard’s abilities as a set-up man.
Kawhi Leonard’s knee issue stems from last year’s quad injury
After working to manage Leonard’s minutes during the regular season, the Raptors had a relatively fresh superstar to lead the way when the postseason began. But he’s been at less than full strength since injuring his left knee during the Eastern Conference Finals. According to Sam Amick and Anthony Slater of The Athletic, the injury comes as a result of Leonard overcompensating for the right quad injury that limited him to just nine games last season. The two-day break comes at a good time for Leonard, who will be on the court for Game 3. Dame three.