2019 NBA Finals: 5 Thoughts on Game 2
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After a nail-biting finish in Game 1, the Golden State Warriors won Game 2 of the NBA Finals over the Toronto Raptors. Like the previous one, this contest was an intense, high-paced game that either team could have won. Before the series shifts to Oakland for Game 3 on Wednesday, here are five thoughts from Game 2:
1. Kawhi Leonard thrived but had no help
By his standards, Kawhi Leonard did not have a good Game 1, going 5-for-14 from the field and making 10 of 12 shots at the free throw line for 23 points. Fortunately for the Raptors, Pascal Siakam stepped up big and shot 14-for-17 from the field for 32 points. Game 2 saw Leonard get back to form, going 8-for-20 from the field and a perfect 16-for-16 from the line for 34 total points. He also powered a late third quarter run to get within striking distance of the Warriors entering into the fourth. However, he never got any sort of support or help like in Game 1; Siakam went 5-for-18, Marc Gasol was 2-for-7, and Kyle Lowry shot 4-for-11. Fred VanVleet came off the bench to be Toronto's second best scorer, adding 17 points on 7-for-17 shooting. All in all, Leonard needs more help if the Raptors want to win this series.
2. Raptors foul trouble
In the non-Kawhi Raptors' defense, they may have been too preoccupied trying to avoid foul calls. Fouls plagued the Raptors throughout the game, especially in the first three quarters. At the start of the fourth period, Gasol, Siakam, and Lowry all had four fouls each. Siakam and Gasol played a much more disciplined fourth quarter, not accruing any more fouls. Lowry, on the other hand, fouled out with just under four minutes left in the game. His last foul was particularly terrible, an awful attempt to steal the ball from DeMarcus Cousins right after Boogie grabbed a defensive rebound. Lowry always walks the thin line, as he’s known for drawing charges, but down the stretch he has to do a better job of avoiding stupid fouls. He’s just too valuable to the Raptors.
3. Cousins steps up while injuries become a concern
DeMarcus Cousins has had a challenging last few years, first tearing his left Achilles tendon in 2018 and then tearing his left quad in Game 2 of the Warriors' first round meeting with the Clippers this season. He battled back through the rehab and returned for Game 1 of these Finals, but only played nine minutes as he slowly worked his way back from injury. In Game 2, though, he stepped up and was a big factor for the Warriors in their win. As both Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney left the game with injuries, Cousins played 28 minutes and put up 11 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and two blocks. Always the foul magnet, he had five fouls but kept himself disciplined enough to close out the game without fouling out. As the Warriors' injuries mount, having a former All-Star like Cousins that can still produce will really help.
4. Warriors displayed superb ball movement
In the pre-Durant era, one of the things the Warriors were well-known for was their frenetic ball movement. Head coach Steve Kerr has always preached that unselfish ball movement, once saying that team assists is one of the three stats he cares about in a game. He must have been very happy with Game 2 then, as the Warriors had 34 team assists on 38 total field goals. In the second half, all 22 made field goals came off an assist as the ball zipped around. Their ball movement powered a dominant third quarter that saw the Warriors outscore the Raptors 34 - 21 and take control of the game after a forgettable first half. In the fourth quarter, the Warriors had back-to-back alley-oops that almost put an end to the game.
5. Iguodala snaps cold streak for the dagger
Despite it all though, this game could have gone to either team. After the aforementioned alley-oops and with Golden State up 106-94, the Dubs went into a severe cold streak. They wouldn’t score until Andre Iguodala’s dagger three-pointer with seven seconds left in the game. The Raptors chipped away at the lead a little to make it 106-98 with four and a half minutes left, but neither team would score again until Leonard’s and-one with a minute and eight seconds remaining to make it 106 - 101. Danny Green dropped a three to make it 106 - 104 with half-a-minute left and with a Raptors comeback right around the corner. Unfortunately for Toronto, Iguodala dropped the dagger three and the Warriors walked away with the win.
All in all it’s been an entertaining series, hopefully Game 3 will be just as fun.