The 2018-19 season has had its share of drama and its only been a month and half old. The Golden State Warriors have had their own internal strife, when Draymond Green and Kevin Durant had a heated discussion, in the middle of a game.
The Toronto Raptors have been moving through their season, with no turmoil, to discuss. The reigning NBA Champions and the reigning Eastern Conference's best team, the Toronto Raptors meet Thursday night, November 29th, 2018.
This is exciting, since there is a strong possibility, if not probability, these two teams will meet, in the NBA Finals, in 2019. However, there are plenty of games to be played between now and then. The hope is tonight's game gives some indication, as to, whether the Raptors are on the same level, as the Golden State Warriors.
At first glance, one has to surmise the answer is no. The Warriors have three stars, in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant.The Raptors have two, in Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard. The Warriors have won three of the last four NBA Titles and have gone back to back in 2017 and 2018. The Raptors have been to an Eastern Conference Final once over three years ago.
However, right now, the Raptors are playing better basketball. The Raptors have won seven straight games and are 7-3, in their last 10 games. The Warriors are just 5-5 and, at one point were, on a 1-4 won losing streak, a couple of weeks ago, when KD and Green had a spat. The Raptors are 18-4 and the Warriors are 15-7.
Both teams have concerns. The Raptors are desperately trying to keep Kawhi Leonard healthy to get him through the season, by, holding him out, of certain games. The Warriors are hopeful, that the event, between Green and KD is, in the past. The key factors to watch, in tonight's game are as follows.
#1 Defensive intensity of the Raptors
This appears to be a concern for the Raptors every game. They need to be defensively focused not only tonight, but over the next three weeks or so. Including Tuesday nights victory over the Memphis Grizzles, 10 of Toronto's next 12 games are against teams over .500.
Golden State can shoot out the lights, if allowed, so the Raptors, absolutely cannot allow Golden State 71 first have points like they did with Memphis. While the Raptors held Memphis to 43 second half points, Memphis does not have the high powered offense the Warriors possess.
Thompson, Durant and Curry have unlimited shooting range and Durant and Curry can get to the rim at will. Even though Curry is going to miss the game because of his injury, Lowry, Leonard and Danny Green will need to be active and focused on the perimeter and defensive rebounding will have to be a team effort from the Raptors.
Currently the Raptors are about 21st in the NBA in giving up about 11.4 offensive rebounds per game. They do not want to give Golden State second chance opportunities.