NBA Starting Lineups and Match Prediction - Golden State Warriors vs Toronto Raptors - Game 5
The other part of that equation is the Raptors are just another victim for the Warriors to showcase their superior talents against on their way to yet another title, a three-peat to be precise.
The Toronto Raptors are not just another opponent and as such have a 3-1 stranglehold thanks to a bruising hard fought defensive clinic of a win on Friday night with a scoreline of 105-93.
The Raptors have now won twice in Oakland in these Finals. On Friday they did it on the strength of who might be the Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard's 36 points and 12 rebounds.
The first time Raptor has been magnificent in the 2019 playoffs and singlehandedly kept Toronto in the game scoring 13 of their 17 first-quarter points when the team could not buy a basket.
His back to back threes to start the third quarter gave the Raptors a lead and signified that the Raptors were prepared to fight tooth and nail to secure the win.
It also helped immensely that Serge Ibaka gave the Raptors a huge lift with 20 points. The Warriors, the walking wounded in these finals, got 28 points on 11-18 shooting from a returning Klay Thompson nursing a bad hamstring.
Kevon Looney also returned to the series but his contribution was limited to 20 minutes and 10 points. Stephen Curry was not his superman like self, while he had 27 points, he was 9/22 from the field and 2/9 from the three-point line. The Warriors now have their task cut out this Monday night in Toronto.
Toronto Raptors Starters
Expect Raptors head coach Nick Nurse to start Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, and Marc Gasol in game 5.
Golden State Warriors
Steve Kerr will likely start Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, DeMarcus Cousins, and Draymond Green
Expectations and Predictions
As things stand right now, it is unclear but highly unlikely that Kevin Durant will see action in game 5 of these 2019 NBA Finals.
After suffering what is considered a 4-6 recovery type injury- a calf strain, Durant was expected to practice with the Warriors Thursday before game 4.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is no longer really talking about Durant’s status although he has traveled back to Toronto with his teammates.
With free agency looming on July 1st, 2019 and a rich payday with the Warriors or elsewhere to come, the question on everyone’s mind is will Durant put his body and potentially career on the line for a chance to save the Warriors? The answer is unknown.
In NBA Finals, the team with a 3-1 series lead has a 33-1 record in finishing the series. The only team to survive a 3-1 deficit were the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers who knocked off these Golden State Warriors in an ultimate game 7. The Toronto Raptors in these 2019 playoffs are 2-1 when playing a playoff opponent facing elimination.
The Toronto Raptors have expressed themselves since the playoffs began with a knack for playing swarming aggressive and adaptive defense which will not quit.
They have now held opponents in the 2019 NBA playoffs to less than 100 points 12 out of 22 games and the vaunted Warriors offense has yet to score more than 109 in any of the Finals games so far.
The Championship pedigree of the Warriors now faces its ultimate test. They trail this Finals Series 3-1 and have Looney, Iguodala, Thompson, and Cousins all banged up. It's unclear whether Durant, if available, will play game 5 and they now need to win three straight elimination games.
The scene at the Oracle Arena, after the Raptors and Warriors fought a war of attrition Friday night, speaks loudly about the shift of momentum in this series. In perhaps the last game the Warriors will play in the Oracle, the contingent of Raptors' fans could be seen cheering and chanting for their Toronto Raptors.
This says nothing of the thousands of Toronto Raptors' fans at the Scotia Bank Arena in Toronto watching on a jumbotron screen also riled up for what is shaping up to be the greatest season in the franchise's history.
Can the Warriors win three elimination games against a Raptors team that plays rabid defense to secure a three-peat as NBA Champions?
History says no, especially with the health of the Warriors team. Expect a celebration in the streets of Toronto, 24 years in the making and the crowning of a new NBA Champion on Monday, June 10th, 2019.