In the 2019 NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors make their fifth-straight Finals appearance against the newcomer Toronto Raptors. Toronto has home court advantage in this series, but that won’t matter much if the Warriors can take Game 1 or 2 on the road. Will Golden State go for a rare threepeat? Or does Kawhi Leonard have the killer instinct to lead the Raptors to their first-ever championship?

[1] Golden State Warriors (0-0) @ [2] Toronto Raptors (0-0)

If there were ever a scenario perfectly appropriate for citing that the regular season doesn’t matter, it would be in this very matchup. The Raptors actually won both matchups against the Warriors, finishing with scores of 131-128 and 113-93. That doesn’t mean that Toronto will torch the Dubs in the Finals. The Warriors continue to play short-handed, which means these first few games are the best chances for the Raptors to win a few games before heading back to Golden State.

Golden State

The Warriors did struggle a little bit against Portland, but their 4-game sweep doesn’t exactly show that. They did this all without KD or Boogie, meaning that their original Big 3 is delivering and capable as ever. The Warriors won 57 games this season, but they easily could’ve won a dozen more had they cared to. They’ve also won the title in 3 of the last 4 years, meaning they’ve got great odds to take another one here in 2019.

 

  • Star Averages in Conference Finals: Stephen Curry – 36.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists. Draymond Green – 16.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 2.3 steals, 2.8 blocks. Klay Thompson – 21.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.8 steals.
  • The Warriors solidly defeated Portland, averaging 114.75 points per game for the series while holding the Blazers to 105.25.
  • Going back to the second round against Houston, Golden State has now won 6 straight games.
  • The Warriors are 6-2 on the road during the playoffs.
  • Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins are both still out at least for Game 1.
  • Golden State covered the point spread in just 3 of their 4 games during the Conference Finals.

Toronto

The Raptors barely managed to make it by Philly and then lost the first 2 games to Milwaukee. They then responded with 4 straight decisive wins to send them to their first NBA Finals. Kawhi Leonard is a generational talent that shows why so much drama surrounded his desire for a trade. His ability to lead the Raptors to the Finals in his first year there (despite LBJ leaving for LA) clearly shows what he can do when healthy.

 

  • Star Averages in Conference Finals: Kawhi Leonard – 29.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.2 steals. Kyle Lowry – 19.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists. Pascal Siakam – 14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists.
  • In a lengthy 6-game series, the Raptors narrowly outplayed the Bucks as they averaged 107.67 points per game while Milwaukee scored 106.67.
  • After losing the first 2, Toronto has now won 4 games in a row.
  • The Raptors are 8-2 at home during the playoffs.
  • Toronto covered the point spread in 4 of their 6 games during the Conference Finals, all of those covers coming in the last 4 wins.

Pick: Golden State Warriors +1.0

When you look at everything on paper; the Warriors are missing KD and Boogie, the Raptors went 2-0 against Golden State during the regular season, Game 1 is played in Toronto where the Raptors are excellent, you might think the Raptors have a great shot of taking the first game. This is true, but you can also never count out the Warriors. Curry and Green are simply steamrolling and have had plenty of rest this postseason, while Kawhi Leonard has played heavy minutes across an abundance of games. This is why your best bet is on Golden State winning tonight to take a 1-0 series lead.

 

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