The Golden State Warriors wrapped up their four game sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers last week, a dominant performance by the defending champions giving them a nine day rest before the Finals begin.
Competition— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 28, 2019
A situation in which someone is trying to win something. pic.twitter.com/xzH2eQ5fPT
Though the Warriors were without superstar Kevin Durant for the whole series, they had several masterclass performances from Stephen Curry to mark their run to a fifth consecutive finals. In the series Steph averaged 36 points eights rebounds and seven assists, on shooting splits of 47% from the field, 42% from three and 92% from the line. He was a combined +42 in the series also.
Even Though Klay Thompson had a quiet series from an efficiency standpoint, he still averaged 21 points a game. Draymond Green broke out this series, nearly averaging a triple double while posting a remarkable defensive rating of just 97. Of particular interest to Warriors fans was seeing all of the squad getting minutes in the Conference Finals because of injuries. Though these lineups weren’t always effective for Steve Kerr, they may benefit from being match ready if needed in the Finals.
🏀 @WARRIORS TOP 10 MOMENTS OF THE SEASON THREAD 🏀— NBA (@NBA) May 28, 2019
Starting with Jonas Jerebko's game-winner to cap a thrilling finish against Utah, relive GSW's best moments before the #NBAFinals Presented by @YouTubeTV tip Thursday, 5/30 at 9pm/et (🇺🇸: ABC 🇨🇦: Sportsnet)! #StrengthInNumbers pic.twitter.com/wTVLK9MZhF
With Kevin Durant not returning until at least Game two, Steph and Draymond have been in the form of their lives. They are peaking perfectly for a Finals matchup against Raptors. Key for the Warriors is that the Raptors present a better match-up than the Bucks do.
Fifth straight Finals
With Kevon Looney’s improved play, he can defend Marc Gasol credibly. While Draymond Green matches up well with Pascal Siakam. The Warriors will run the Draymond at center lineups for parts of the game which will stretch Toronto’s defense, this will expose Marc Gasol and may mean Siakam will end up at center. Toronto’s size may mean Andrew Bogut may have to play more at center, risking some of the Warriors floor spacing.
The Warriors strategy regardless of their match-ups will be to shoot the lights out and then look to take the ball out of Kawhi’s hands as much as possible. They have two of the best defenders in the NBA in Klay and Draymond, so either simple ball denial or switching will be the best options.
Offensively, Steph had a hot Conference Finals compared to the last two rounds. He may cool off slightly but will back himself to take on a massive offensive load while Durant is out. As the minutes need to be shared around the role players in Durant’s absence, the likes of Quinn Cook and Jonas Jerebko will need to make a difference in their limited opportunities.
In summary, the Warriors have been here many times before. The core group are returning to their fifth straight finals, while a large portion of the team are in their second of third finals. Though they don’t have home-court advantage for the first time in this Finals run, their collective championship experience should be enough to bring the NBA title back to the Bay Area for another year.