2019 NBA Finals: Game 4 Preview
Before we get into Game 4, let's take a look back at how the Toronto Raptors emerged victorious in Game 3 and took a 2-1 series lead. The Golden State Warriors entered Game 3 without Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Kevon Looney. Those are arguably three of their best six players, and they were missed sorely. Without much scoring around him, Steph Curry put up a career playoff high 47-points on 14/31 shooting including 6/14 from three. He also added eight rebounds and seven assists. Even with Curry’s heroics the Raptors controlled the game from the jump. The only lead the Warriors had in Game 3 came at the 10:42 mark of the first when Curry hit his first three to put them up 5-4.
The Warriors were able to keep it interesting for a good portion of the game, but every time the lead was cut to 5 or 7 the Raptors would respond with a big shot to put an end to Golden State’s momentum. Controlling the runs was one of the keys to a Raptors win I pointed out in my Game 3 preview and Toronto controlled the momentum the whole game.
Every Raptors starter finished the game in double figures, led by Kawhi Leonard’s 30 points. Kyle Lowry added 23, Danny Green and Pascal Siakam had 18 each, and Marc Gasol finished with 17. The Raptors were able to get open looks on a majority of their offensive possessions, leading to them shooting 52.4% from the field, 44.7% from three and 95.2% from the line in this game and making the most three pointers (17) of any road team in Finals history.
Without Thompson and Looney in the game the Warriors defense struggled mightily, allowing the Raptors 118.5 points per 100 possessions on first shot opportunities in the first half after holding them to 77.2 pts/poss in Game 2. Lowry and Siakam came out hyper aggressive in this game and made it a point to score the ball whenever they had the opening. Siakam had a dreadful Game 2 in which he shot 5-18, and it says a lot about his mentality that he didn’t fold and came out ready to prove himself in his first Finals game away from home. Now let’s look ahead to Game 4.
Kevin Durant has been ruled out of Game 4 according to Steve Kerr and Klay Thompson is “likely to play”. Not having KD for this game makes it a must win for the Warriors in my opinion. If they fall down 3-1 going back to Toronto for Game 5 and are having to incorporate Durant back into the offense for a do or die game.This will be the biggest test this current version of the Warriors have ever had. The Warriors don’t seem the least bit worried though, Draymond Green said the plan for the remainder of the series is “win the next game, go back to Toronto, win Game 5, come back to Oracle, win Game 6. Celebrate. Fun times ahead.”
The Raptors had to win Game 3 to have a real shot at winning this series, and with the news that KD is out for Game 4 it must feel like another golden opportunity for them. They were able to get into a solid rhythm offensively and the ball was swinging around the perimeter finding open shooters in the corners and on cuts to the tune of 30 assists on 43 made baskets. They will need the same type of energy and urgency offensively in Game 4 knowing the Warriors will not lie down and let them win two straight in Oakland and take a stranglehold on the series.