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Raptors move closer to glory despite sluggish start


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Oakland, CA– In what could be the final game played at Oracle Arena, the Golden State Warriors find themselves behind 3-1 in the NBA Finals after a phenomenal second half performance by the Toronto Raptors.

As a result, the Raptors find themselves one game away from lifting the Larry O’Brien championship trophy towards the heavens as they took Game Four 105-92.

Raptors composure

This game reminded you of Game Two, when the Warriors started off the game ice cold but turned it around in the seoncd half to even the series. This time it would be the Toronto Raptors that showed great patience and poise.

It wasn’t that Toronto wasn’t getting the shots that they got in Game Three, but they weren’t falling. The Raptors began the first five minutes of the opening quarter shooting 2-for-8 from the field and finished the frame shooting 28 percent.

Golden State didn’t have a great shooting performance to begin the game either (40 percent), but they were getting inside Toronto’s head early by establishing a great defensive presence. Klay Thompson went on a tear in the first half. He had 14 of his 28 points going into halftime and was lighting up the opposition as he took advantage of mismatches and nailed open jumpers.

The Warriors played their brand of basketball and it just seemed as if Toronto was trying to keep up. The Warriors shot 47 percent from the field and scored 16 fast break points. Toronto shot 34 percent. Yet, the Raptors only found themselves down by four in a half where you could argue they could’ve been down 15. All they needed was a small opening to give them hope to blow the game wide open.

Kawhi the Killer

Legends are made in the NBA Finals, and Kawhi Leonard is etching his name in the history books. He came into the third quarter hard body karate and wild for the night. He scored 17 points in the third period, leading the Raptors on a 20-7 run to end the third quarter and take a 79-67 lead going into the final frame.

By that time, it was Toronto’s game and they played their game to the very last detail to close things out. Credit Toronto as they didn’t let up for a second and their composure the entire game.

A Little Help From My Friends

Leonard was outstanding as he’s been the entire series with his 36 points on 11-of-22 shooting. However, this whole entire playoff run for the Raptors has come down to one thing: The Others.

The Klaw didn’t get much help in that first half. He scored 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting, while his teammates only contributed three points on one field goal in 13 shot attempts. He clawed the Raptors through that first quarter to somehow only be down six (23-17). But in that second half, his teammates really gave him the help that he needed.

He isn’t asking Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol or Danny Green to give him 20 points each and we know they aren’t. Game Three was one of those games for those guys that was something you expected them to do for one game but not a whole series. But they contributed in Game Four.

Serge Ibaka came off the bench and gave 20 points in 22 minutes. Pascal Siakam had another strong performance with 19 points and Lowry played great second half basketball, finishing with 10 points and seven dimes.

When you’re a superstar, this is what you look for from your other guys. Leonard had to do a lot just to keep the team in the basketball game, but when you have guys that can give you solid minutes and valuable scoring options, it makes your job a lot easier and that’s what Kawhi got in the second half.

Missing KD Right About Now

Without question the Golden State Warriors will go down as one of the greatest NBA dynasties ever. But it’s time to admit… they needed Kevin Durant in this series.

Draymond Green finished with a near triple-double (10 points, 9 rebounds, 12 assist) but he isn’t looked at as a scorer. Andre Iguodala was non-existent with only three points to his name. Stephen Curry had 27 points but shot 40 percent from the field and only hit two threes in this game.

Now Golden State played a great game. 32 fast break points, 36 points in the paint, 45 percent shooting. Yet, the second half surge by the Raptors seemed to be too much for the Warriors. In addition, they shot under 30 percent from long distance.

They looked exhausted and it looks as if all of the wear and tear on their bodies are hitting them at the wrong time. During the Raptors’ run they failed to rotate on defense, that Box-and-One defense ran by Toronto put a dent in Golden State’s attack and they couldn’t hit shots.

Durant would change a lot offensively for Golden State. When you’re missing a top tier talent like Durant and you’re hoping that an out of shape big man can be that third scorer or give you some contribution on top of the rest of the team being banged up… you get performances like this.

Toronto looks to close the series out on Monday in Toronto at 9 p.m ET on ABC.

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