The Golden State Warriors looked slow and fragile in the second half of the their game four loss of the NBA finals on Friday. If this turns out to be their last appearance in Oracle arena it will be a disappointing end for a building with so much history.
Fatigue and the injury bug have plagued the Warriors throughout these finals despite sweeping the Portland Trailblazers and having extra time to rest and let nagging knicks and knacks heal. With Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson injured in game three Steph Curry gave it his all in game three, scoring 47 in a loss. The effort was a waste considering his lackluster performance in game four (lackluster but he still finished with 27 points).
The Warriors with an injured Durant an inconsistent Steph Curry had to rely on the returning Klay Thompson to carry them. In the first half it looked like a reasonable strategy but Toronto adjustments and general fatigue caught up to Golden State in the second half where they spent a large of portion of the half with a double digit deficit. An inconsistent Curry still meant 27 points, only one fewer than Thompson, but watching the game it never felt like he was ever there.
As the second quarter ended Draymond Green was more than halfway to a triple double in the assists, rebounds and points columns. He fell short of the triple double by only a rebound, bringing down nine along with twelve assists and ten points. Mark Jackson and Stan Van Gundy didn’t seem to notice how effective Green was in the trenches during the opening quarters but the Raptors staff must have seen it and were able to nullify Draymond’s gritty style only letting him pull down two additional rebounds in the second half and score four points. That low key adjustment may have been the difference maker between the first half where the Warriors had the lead and the second half where they fell apart.
Kevon Looney is tough. Earlier in the week it was reported that he’d miss the rest of the finals with a rib injury yet there he was in game four putting up ten points. And while that is admirable, in general the big men didn’t come through, DeMarcus Cousins just doesn’t look like the offensive beast he once was since he came back from his first round injury. And Bogut had his moments in these playoffs but he was limited to a lowly eleven minutes.
Meanwhile the Silent Assassin, Kawhi Leonard went to work against the Warriors securing twelve rebounds and putting up thirty-six points. After the game he told sideline reporter (who should be doing color commentating) that he doesn’t play hero ball or for the fans. He just tries to win.
Kawhi post game interview with Doris Burke.
“I don’t play hero ball…
I don’t play for fans…
I don’t play to break records…
I play to win.”
— TheRealMccoy (@Only1arejay) June 8, 2019
Only Leonard and Serge Ibaka, coming off the bench, had great games. A quick look at the box score and you’d have to assume the rest of the team contributed with “intangibles”. Aside from Kawhi, the Raptors level of play on Friday would not have been enough to beat a team like the Warriors on most nights.
This is a beat up Warriors team going against a Raptors team that is also tired and injured. The difference is the Raptors are more dialed in and focused on their craft. There are a lot of veterans on this team that were once great or near great that know this might be their last chance for an NBA title. Kendrick Perkins tweeted this note at the end of game three:
I witnessed something very scary tonight after the game! Toronto were walking back to their locker room after the game and nobody was celebrating and they weren’t smiling or nothing! They boys want the smoke! Take it from a former Champ!!!
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) June 6, 2019
I witnessed something very scary tonight after the game! Toronto were walking back to their locker room after the game and nobody was celebrating and they weren’t smiling or nothing! They boys want the smoke! Take it from a former Champ!!! -Kendick Perkins
Chaotic Sports tweeted him asking him if he saw the same thing in game four. If he answers we’ll update the article. Just from the quick shots from the broadcast there didn’t appear to be a bunch of jovial dinosaurs heading into the locker room but being on the floor gives you a better perspective.
Game five takes place 9pm EST/6pm PST in Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Monday June 10th. Toronto has the opportunity to close out the series at home and put an end to the idea that the Warriors are unbeatable. By extension that should kill the idea that teams shouldn’t try to build “super teams” anything can happen it benefits the franchises and fans to always work towards getting a ring.
All eyes will be on Kevin Durant and whether he is healthy enough to return and turn the tides. The Warriors need to win the final three games and two of those wins will have to be in Toronto.
Like always chaoticsports will be tweeting like mad.