3 Reasons the Raptors Will Beat the Warriors in the NBA Finals
(Photo from upi.com)
Defence, Defence, Defence!
As sports fans we are all familiar with the phrase “defence wins championships,” and the Raptors certainly possess a championship calibre defence.
The Raptors' defence consists of 4 players who have made All-NBA Defensive teams and one could argue that they have 6 players worthy of that accolade.
Two former NBA Defensive Players of the Year lead the defence in Kawhi Leonard and Marc Gasol, and their presence is paramount in giving opposing offences fits.
The Raptors defensive personnel is versatile and lengthy and is capable of switching everything, which is essential in combating Golden State’s offence that thrives off of off-ball movement and moving screens.
Golden State has never faced a defence this calibre in their 5-year Finals run and they will struggle as a result. We are three games into the series and the Finals have held Golden State to 109 points in each game.
Home Court Advantage
The Raptors accumulated 1 more regular season win than the Golden State Warriors, which has effectively earned them home court advantage in the NBA Finals; this being the first time Golden State has not had home court advantage in their 5-year Finals run.
When playing at home it provides a boost of confidence and supporting players typically always play better at home in front of their own crowd. This was clearly the case in Game 1, when the Raptors came out and beat the Warriors with Siakam going absolutely crazy in his first Finals game, with a stat line of 32-8-5 on 82% shooting from the field.
In game 2, despite allowing Golden State to go on an 18-0 run in the third quarter, the Raptors were still in the game till the very end this would not have been the case if they were not playing at home that game.
For years the Raptors have been unable to get over the hump in the playoffs and the reason for that is because they lacked a true, bonafide superstar to get them over said hump.
Since acquiring Kawhi Leonard, the Raps now clearly possess that, as he is without a doubt the best two-way player in the league. His prolific run in these playoffs has made people declare him the best player in the league, period. He has averaged 30.9 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 1,5 steals per game while shooting nearly 50% from the field (49.8%), 37.9% from three and 88.5% from the free throw line during these playoffs. He is not the most vocal leader, but he leads by example and is willing to do whatever is needed in order to win. He also has a bone to pick with the Golden State Warriors because in the 2016-17 postseason he played in prior to this year’s, he was injured by the Golden State Warriors’ Zaza Pachulia, who knocked him out of those playoffs.
Prior to that, he and the Spurs were beating the Warriors by 23 at Oracle in game 1, leaving people to wonder what would have been if he had not gone down with his ankle injury.
Kawhi was also the player who ended the Miami Heat’s attempt at a three-peat in 2014, and now he’s determined to repeat history and halt the Golden State Warriors’ attempt at a three-peat.