In retrospect, we had a pretty strong indication that things were changing Toronto's path in preparation for his victory in Game 1 over the Warriors:
If that dreaded hashtag alone did not seal both the Raptors' victory and the end, the midfield defense of Toronto did the former, and Pascal Siakam's life performance did the latter, and the Raptors took a surprising and comfortable victory 118-109. As they did against the 76ers in the second round and the Bucks in the conference finals, many defenders of the long members of Toronto got rid of the Golden State offense and forced the Warriors to look for buckets of insulation and maladjustments. And Siakam was unconscious of the floor, adding 32 points in the absurd shot of 14 of 17 and playing as in the worst case the third best player on the court.
It was not all Siakam. Marc Gasol had his best playoff game; Kawhi Leonard was able to anchor the show; Danny Green rediscovered his shot; and Fred VanVleet continued his momentum since the end of the Bucks series, with 15 points to lead the Toronto bank. Depth has been a strength for the Raptors for years, but that's usually an badet that loses a ton of value the deeper a team is in the playoffs. This may not be the case in this series: the more the Raptors supported useful types such as VanVleet and Serge Ibaka, and valuable minutes were extracted from the versatile Norman Powell, it seemed more absurd that the Warriors gave the final minutes to Jonas Jerebko and Alfonzo McKinnie and Quinn Cook. It's not that those guys are so stubborn, but the Warriors lose. tonne of the game and the power of game finishing when 40 or more percent of a given alignment is made up of dazzling and exceptional players.
Which brings us to DeMarcus Cousins. It was exciting to see that he had been activated for the game after the time that was lost due to an injury, but Steve Kerr could have jumped the gun playing against him on Thursday night. Within minutes of taking the floor, he was gasping for breath, and for the most part he looked like an awkward fool in the style of the 1990s, whose job it is to give a couple of faults and get out of there. The central position could be a persistent problem for Golden State: Jordan Bell got the start, but he played less than 12 minutes, and Cousins was good for only eight more. If Kevin Durant were near the Warriors, he could simply ride in the Hamptons Five lineup, which devoured the world; without Durant and only Kevon Looney to occupy a central place, the best the Warriors can do for a lineup is to play Shaun Livingston with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, but the space of that lineup. mean death against the suffocating defense of Toronto. It is less an alignment of death and more an alignment of mutual annoyance. And his work will not be easier after Iguodala stopped in the fourth quarter:
Toronto took the lead early and had control most of the way. A few times in the second half, the Warriors seemed ready to run together, getting three or four points, and each time the Raptors hit him and pushed the lead to three or four possessions. It was an impressive showing for a team with a rookie head coach, making his first appearance in the Finals, and they did it without another Kyle Lowry Game, and without Kawhi going crazy. They have firmly changed the heat to the Warriors, who are now in the unknown position of needing to find solutions to gain momentum in a series of NBA Finals.