First of all, congratulations to the Warriors and Raptors, and their fans, for reaching the NBA Finals.
The Warriors’ fifth straight appearance is an amazing accomplishment, something I didn’t think we’d see. That nothing happened over that stretch that was enough to prevent them from at least one appearance is a testament to their excellence, no matter how sick or not you might be of them.
For the Raps, this is their first Finals appearance in franchise history (a history shorter than our Wolves, who still have never been there, alas.) Led by the incomparable Kawhi Leonard, they finished off the Bucks, who had the best record in the league and the presumptive MVP by winning four straight after losing two to start the series.
This will be the first time in their run that the Warriors begin the Finals on the road. While home court advantage is important and Toronto wouldn’t switch roles, it might have one benefit for the Warriors: If they are rusty after their long layoff, losing a road game, or even two, to start the series isn’t quite as damaging as losing at home. Does anyone think, even if the Raps win the first two in Toronto, that the series is over? I doubt it. Whereas if the Warriors come out rested and hot, they could bury the Raps early.
I won’t spend time breaking down the various match ups in this one—go read the much smarter Zach Lowe or others for that. I just think that the Raps will not be able to keep up with the Warriors over a series. Too much fire power, and the Warriors defense really showed what it’s capable of against the Blazers in the Western finals. As much as I admire Leonard and what the Raps have built, I just can’t see them really pushing the Warriors, who I expect to win their fourth title in five years and third in a row, whether or not Kevin Durant comes back at some point in this series.
They just have too many weapons, and without Durant, Draymond Green was unleashed against the Blazers, and reminded everyone what his talents look like on full display at both ends of the floor. His ability to push pace and make good decisions at full speed is shocking from a guy of his size and strength. With the shooting that surrounds that pace and pick and roll game, the Warriors are just too dangerous.
The Raps will have stretches, certainly defensively when they can slow things down and use their length and physicality as we saw against the Bucks, but they will need too many things to happen offensively—Fred Van Vleet continuing his crazy hot shooting, Kyle Lowry taking a star turn, Leonard to continue pouring in 35 a night—to beat the Warriors. I think it’s just too much to expect.
My pick is Warriors in five.
Some of the other Canis writers also chimed in:
John Meyer (@thedailywolf): Warriors in six
Kyle Theige (@KyleTheige): Warriors in six
Mike O’Hagen (@miklohagen): Warriors in seven
Josh Clement: Warriors in six
None of us took the Raptors, which probably means they’ll win this somehow.
What say you?