NBA Starting Lineups and Match Prediction - Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors - Game 4
Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors - Game 4, Oracle Arena, 9:00 PM ET
The Raptors lead the series 2-1 after trouncing the Warriors with a scoreline of 123-109 at their home court. However, the Warriors were without both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.
This series is getting exciting as we might see the return of a few big names in the next game. So with that in mind, let's analyze the scenarios for both the teams ahead of the Game 4 fixture.
The Toronto Raptors' perspective
The Warriors are one-legged due to injuries, and the Raptors are taking full advantage of it. But if you think their dominance in this series is only due to the above fact, then you need to think again.
The Raptors are playing fantastic basketball. The team is full of purpose, and working together towards a single goal - their first-ever NBA championship.
Game 3 saw six players scoring in double-figures for them, including all five starters. Kawhi Leonard led the team with 30 points, six assists, and seven rebounds. He was troubled a lot by Green and Iguodala in the game but still managed to accumulate his share of points. Pascal Siakam, Danny Green and Marc Gasol supported him well with 18, 18 and 17 points respectively on the night and shot well from the floor.
However, Kyle Lowry proved why he is still a very critical part of this Raptors' team. He was everywhere on the floor, finishing with 23 points, four grabs, one steal, and one block. He shot 8 out of 16 from the field and looked much better than the previous two games.
Below is what Lowry said after the game:
"For me, it was just coming off being aggressive. And not so being passive, and trying to get everybody else involved—more so get myself going, and let everybody else feed off of that."
The Raptors have been implementing unprecedented tactics lately against the Warriors like the "box-and-one" defense against Curry, and have been aggressive straight from the get-go. They will be willing to continue the same form in the next game and get one step closer to the elusive championship.
However, with Klay Thompson returning into the Warriors' lineup for the next game, the Raptors' task will be cut out.
Predicted Starting Lineup: Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry, and Danny Green.
The Golden State Warriors' perspective
The Warriors need to brush away the rust and get back to the winning ways before it's too late.
Stephen Curry dropped 47 points in Game 3 along with seven assists and eight rebounds. But he was alone with little help from the rest of the squad. Although there was a right amount of ball movement during some instances in the game, it was still a one-person show. No other players had 20+ points in the game with Green following Curry with 17 points and seven rebounds.
Shaun Livingston started the game in place of Klay Thompson who sat on the bench due to precautionary measures after he went off in Game 2 with left hamstring tightness. Livingston did not impact the game much and scored just four points in his 17 minutes of play. Also, Cousins finished with only four points and three rebounds on the night.
The defense was not up to the mark, and Steve Kerr needs to admonish his squad to put in more effort on the court. They also need their stars back, but while Thompson is set to make a return in Game 4, Durant has been ruled out for a ninth straight game since he went off in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals with right calf strain.
"I mean, we fought, but we lost. So we got to go back to the drawing board and just recalibrate. It’s the finals, man," said Stephen Curry after the game.
Predicted Starting Lineup: Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Klay Thompson, and Stephen Curry.
How things might unfold
Klay Thompson will inevitably return in the next game as per Steve Kerr, whereas Durant has been ruled out. With KD's injury keeping him on the sidelines longer than one would have expected, the Warriors face the risk of giving the Raptors a 3-1 lead in the series, with the fifth game in Toronto.
The Raptors have everything going well on both ends of the floor. However, Kawhi has not had that much of breathing space as he did in the rest of the playoffs as this Warriors' team has defended him well. Also, Siakam has been kept considerably quiet in the last two games after he outscored everybody in Game 1.
With Klay Thompson's contribution on defense, the Raptors will surely have a tough time on offense. However, the absence of Kevin Durant still gives the Raptors a more than decent chance of pulling off another road win.