TORONTO – The painful conclusion behind the ghost of the Golden State Warrior who swooped through the Scotiabank Arena was that the best Toronto Raptor team ever had, one who was in charge of competing for the NBA championship – just not good enough.
Keep in mind, Raptors are very good. They are NBA-best 19-4 and on Thursday night with the whole world watching – their 8:00. the start at TNT was the only NBA game to be played in the Eastern Time Zone – won an exciting match against the Warriors Duel Warrior in Extension 131-128.
It was a spectacle. Drake, Global Ambassador Raptors, was there, telling the trash to Kevin Durant before asking for his jersey (Durant gave it). Toronto Cardle Leafs chief coach Mike Babcock – anti-Drake, it feels safe to say – was also on the field.
And as a group, the Raptors surely appeared.
They forced Durav deeply into his bag of world-class basketball tricks to put 51 points, including an unlikely play for three players with Kawhi Leonard who slit it and put the game in an extra session. In the end, it was not enough, because the Raptors jumped on a fast run in the OT and forced three Warriors tournaments in the last two minutes to stop Golden State winning 13 victories over Toronto.
Leonard – playing the Warriors (15-8) for the first time after the 2017 Western Conference Finals 2017, when he had the Golden State on the ropes with the San Antonio Spurs before the ankle throw it out of the game and the series – played his best game as Raptor . He added 37 points to 24 shots with eight rebounds against only one traffic despite seeing the regular diet of second and third defenders. Probably deserves credit for keeping Durant – who averaged 44 points over his last four games – to somewhat below 70 for the night.
It was fun as basketball in November can be imagined. Even coarse Kyle Lowry – who made the idea that it was just a 82-year-old game of performing arts in the morning available media – had to admit when everything was said and done that it was not just another regular season of the game.
"I think, rather than throw them out," Lowry said, who finished 10 points and 12 assists and only one traffic, and in the fourth quarter achieved a critical triple penalty to break the Warriors in the game. "But it was a fun game, these are fun games, what's in this league, you guys have that, KD has 51 and put them on [his] back, made two huge three-string stretch and Kawhi made some great shots. Frankly, it was a good, fun game. "
But Warriors lacked two of their league-high contingent of four superster, with both Steph Curry and Draymond Green (toe), and they noticed Raptor in the first quarter of 18 points as well as the 17th in the third quarter – and they were almost out of it.
The Raptors have won, extending to both the NBA and the Eastern Conference. They looked good looking at the whole world. They also had an exceptional performance by Pascal Siakama who scored 26 points in career on just 10 shots and weakened the game on the extension overtime.
But there was concern.
They fought the lines, as their second unit was largely thrown and thrown out for rotating Warriors. Having jumped 32 to 14 before the first quarter ended, they avoided shooting the Warrior before the semi-finals, leaving nine in eight minutes, supporting the opposing opponent.
They had 17 offensive jumps – a problem that the Raptors had throughout the season – giving the most dangerous offensive team in basketball another 13 hits from Toronto. And below in the game, the Warriors did what the teams always did to Raptors: send more defenders to their primary shooter – Leonard's replacement for DeMar DeRozan – and force anyone else to beat them. Toronto has only won 23 points in the fourth quarter, suggesting a strategy that still works.
In a two-minute possession, three distinct Raptors – Siakam, Serge Ibaka and Lowry – passed a decent look at Ibak (20 points on 13 hits) was forced to run for three hours with the clock running. At Toronto's last possession – after Durant hit his almost impossible corner at Leonard to tie the 8.6 seconds remaining – Leonard was full and could not get the ball out to someone before the clock expired.
So while he was tempted to celebrate the dramatic victory over an elite – even a short-handed – opponent, when confronted with Raptor's pursuits in June, it's important to stay at least sober.
"If we were to worry about the job, we kept the pace we wanted to keep, we should do better," Green said, one of the two Raptors with a ring ring, who looked at the part while he was hit by two of the three in the fourth quarter and overtime. "We are young and immature [get out] to quite large traces and can not support them.
"It's part of the breeding, it's part of maturing with this group … it's obviously a great bowling club, a club for the championship club, they will be fighting, they will be back. quit quarter, find out how to close games and find out how to keep potential customers. "
Not that Warriors do not take Raptor seriously. Thompson, Curry and Steve Kerr all refer to Toronto as the imaginative Finals opponent – that's just what will happen if the Raptors ever get there?
And on one night, it's hard to imagine that Warriors make up water that overflows over and over the shore and Raptor (or, to be honest, anyone else) running frustrated, trying to bury the holes with the final supply of fingers. Just dealing with the red hot Durant had enough trouble.
Imagine Curry warming up. Or Thompson (who had 23 points and was 3-of-9 from the depth, reflecting on some odds that might be the fourth in the quarter), which only have an extra second in order to reach the outward appearance.
"It has presented us with a bunch of problems we have to deal with and we will have to learn how to do some of them, both sides of the ball," said Raptors Nick Nurse's chief trainer.
Warriors can be mountains too difficult to climb for everyone. Consider that Raptori is extremely suitable for defending Duranta.
Just ask him, "They have great defenders," he said. "Kawhi is tough because I love dancing with the ball and you can not do it with him because he is just in that dribling bar and he is so big and he can get the ball so fast when you play. You have to use more energy to win it and they have players who help – you have Siakam there, Danny Green, they have a lot of athletic guys who can keep it so I had to sleep last night, doing a lot of work today.
"The defense was important, but I managed to hit a few strokes."
If he just hit another pair, that would mean a significant mood of 19,800 participants.
That the Raptors survived and gained a big night out and helped them build a collection of experiences that would serve them well in the playoffs while trying to use their guaranteed Leonard season at the NBA Finale.
But you have trembling over what they might find them waiting for them – or any team – when they come to June and find the power of the Warriors team waiting there.