- The Warriors pulled off a Game 2 win in Toronto to get back into their NBA Finals series. They did so at a cost, however, as Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney suffered injuries. Golden State has never needed 'strength in numbers' more.
Golden State wins, and the Warriors are right back in this series, favorites to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy for the third consecutive season.
There’s little doubt that the Warriors' 109-104 win in Game 2 of the NBA Finals was a series saver. It’s been years since Golden State played a game of this importance so early in a series, but the combination of the Raptors' ferocious, two-way play and the Warriors' steadily swelling injury list made Sunday night’s tilt as significant as they get.
They almost lost, too. Down 11 with 90 seconds to play in the first half, with Scotiabank Arena rocking loud enough to reverberate in Vancouver, the Warriors were in trouble. Kevin Durant—down since May 8 with a calf injury and still unable to fully practice—remained out and Stephen Curry was under the weather.
But then the Warriors did what the Warriors do. They whittled the Raptors' lead down to five at halftime and ripped off an 18-0 run to start the third, giving them an edge they would not give back.
“I thought if we kept it up, it would turn around because when they went on their run, we had three or four possessions where we got great shots and we just missed them,” Draymond Green said. “I have faith in our team. We always talk about just getting a shot every time. We're good enough to where if we get a shot every time, we're going to give ourselves a chance to win.”
What a series, what a postseason for Green, the fourth member of Golden State’s three-star team who has been asked to assume a bigger role with Durant out and has filled it, and then some. He finished an assist shy of a triple-double, what would have been his sixth of these playoffs and fourth in a row. Excoriated for his defense against Pascal Siakam in Game 1, Green responded by limiting Siakam to 12 points—on 5-of-18 shooting.
“As a defender, as a competitor, I relish those opportunities to make an impact on the game, on the defensive side of the basketball,” Green said. “I understand how important that side of the basketball is and no matter who I'm on, I try to make sure I have a big impact on that side.”
Green supplied the defense; the offense came from everywhere. We are used to seeing Golden State bury opponents in an avalanche of three-pointers, a high-arcing rainbow from Curry, a textbook jumper from Klay Thompson, an off-the-dribble dagger from Durant. A three-point lead can become 12 in seconds.
This was different. This was Andre Iguodala, forced into the locker room late in the second quarter after running into a Marc Gasol screen, opening the third with an 18-foot jumper. This was Curry, out of sorts in the first quarter and erratic from three, following it up with an 11-foot floater. This was unselfishness. Golden State racked up 34 assists on 38 made shots with all 22 of the Warriors makes in the second half coming with an assist. This was DeMarcus Cousins hauling down rebounds—10 in all—and kick-starting fast breaks over 28 grueling minutes. Any vulnerabilities the Warriors showed in the first half were forgotten in a 34-21 third quarter.
“Third quarter,” Kyle Lowry said from the locker room. “We didn’t play well enough. We missed too many shots. They got out in transition and got a little bit of confidence going. Third quarter. We lost the game there. We fought back and did a great job, but we missed some looks in the third that we usually make.”
Any other year, you would put every nickel on Golden State closing out this series. But Durant remains in street clothes, with no clear timeline on his return. And Thompson may join him. Early in the fourth quarter, Thompson elevated for a three. He splayed his legs out in what looked like an attempt to draw contact. His left leg skidded across the floor when he landed, causing what, officially, the Warriors called tightness in his hamstring. He did not return.
As players filed off the floor, cameras caught Thompson waiting in the hallway, an ice bag wrapped around his left hamstring and with a noticeable limp.
“Klay said he'll be fine, but Klay could be half dead and he would say he would be fine,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We'll see. He pulled his hamstring. He thinks it is minor, so I don't know what that means going forward.”
Indeed, Thompson’s injury—along with Kevon Looney, who suffered what was officially ruled a left chest contusion in the second quarter—keeps Toronto’s hopes alive, even as this series shifts to Oracle Arena on Wednesday. The Raptors' shooting went cold on Sunday (Toronto connected on 28.9% of its threes) but they have proven they can get hot again, quickly.
“Overall I think we just started too slow,” Fred VanVleet said. “You can't do that against this team. Missing every shot doesn't help, whatever, 10 possessions in a row we didn't score. I'm not even sure. It didn't feel like we were even getting in the paint to control the tempo or the flow of the game.”
Two games in and both teams leave Toronto feeling like they have accomplished something. The Raptors couldn’t protect home court but they move forward in this series against an opponent that is badly wounded. The Warriors have a “next man up mentality,” Quinn Cook said after the game. Never has that needed to be more true.