NBA 2018-19: 3 Takeaways from the Toronto Raptors Vs Golden State match up
Raptors won 131-128 against the Warriors
The Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors met, in Toronto, Thursday night. While it is just one, of 82 games, each side has to play, the game had bigger implications. It was potentially an NBA Finals scenario, for 2019.
It was a test for the Raptors to see if their style of play can rival the Warriors. The Warriors are just trying to get healthy and win games. The Raptors went into this game 18-4 and the Warriors were 15-7. The Raptors were the class, of the East, going into the contest and the Warriors were third placed in the West. This game required overtime and was won 131-128, by the Raptors.
The Raptors had control, most of the way, leading early 22-8, 32-16 and 67-58 at the half. However, in the third quarter, Kevin Durant took over. He scored the Warriors' final 13 points bringing the Warriors within 8 points ending the third, with the score at 96-88.
In the final quarter, the Warriors had a 9-0 run to get within two points of the Raptors. The Raptors responded going on an 8-0 run, which put the Raptors back up, by 10. It was a game of such runs and Golden State just would not go away.
Durant ultimately tied the game at 119 with 8 seconds remaining, in the 4th quarter. The Raptors would outscore the Warriors 12-9, in the overtime period, to secure the victory. These two teams will meet again, in Golden State, on December 12th, 2018. Stephen Curry was not in the line again for Golden State. He has been out of the Warriors line up since November 8th, 2018.
Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors with 37 points and 8 rebounds. He got help from Pascal Siakam who scored 26 points and Serge Ibaka with 20. The Warriors got a gargantuan 51 points from Kevin Durant, 23 points from Klay Thompson and 20 points from Jonas Jerebko.
The three takeaways from this game are.
#1 Is Kawhi Leonard healthy?
Kawhi Leonard has now played over 35 minutes in each of the Raptors' last three games. He played 35 minutes against Miami, on Sunday night, 37 minutes Tuesday night against Memphis, and he played 44 minutes tonight against Golden State.
Leonard and Danny Green came to Toronto this offseason, in a trade, with San Antonio. Leonard had missed 73 games last season due to injuries and the Raptors have been managing his minutes and holding him out of certain games, in an effort, to get him through the season.
The Raptors also do not have a long-term contractual commitment, from Leonard, so its important that the Raptors have Leonard healthy and motivated for the playoffs.
This upswing in minutes, recently, may suggest Leonard is fully healthy. Most of the Raptors playoff hopes this season rest with Kawhi Leonard. If his minutes remain elevated, it would be good for his, in-game stamina, and help coach Nick Nurse sharpen his rotations and not have to worry about managing Leonard’s minutes.