Toronto Raptors @ Golden State Warriors
Game 4 – Saturday June 8, 02:00
Live on Sky Sports Main Event, Arena
Golden State’s night off
The physical toll of their playoff run looked too great for the Warriors going into game three, and so it proved on Wednesday night. The Raptors did the necessary to keep this series interesting, and the 123-109 scoreline might set some alarm bells ringing amongst the blue-and-gold fanbase, especially with the Warriors so depleted.
Klay Thompson’s hamstring strain was too severe to risk, while Kevin Durant never looked a likely starter. Throw in Kevon Looney’s season-ending collarbone, DeMarcus Cousins’ lingering problems, and Andre Iguodala’s struggles and the Western Conference representatives look vulnerable.
But it’s not clear that this defeat is a sign of things to comes. Klay Thompson said that it’s not the end of the world that he missed the game and his team lost. Rather, it underlines the importance of the game two victory because it bought the champions time to get healthier. If they can get Kevin Durant back in the line-up and firing, the series is still there to be won.
Game three felt more like a game that the Warriors knew they couldn’t win. Steph Curry can do a lot – and did it in game three scoring 47 points and making seven assists – but only Draymond Green of the remaining Warriors made it over 11 points. Toronto took the lead in the first quarter, winning those 12 minutes 36-29, and never allowed the home team to make that gap much tighter for the rest of the game.
The Warriors have lost the home advantage edge they earned in game two, but this series could’ve easily been 3-0 Raptors right now given all that’s gone wrong for the favourites.
Lose again tonight, and it’s time to get worried.
A series-saving win
It was a much bigger win for the road team. The Raptors could not afford to drop a second straight game and played like they knew it. “Let it rip” was the rallying call for the East champs in the Oracle Arena locker room before they went and took back control of the series, and they took those words to heart as all five starters posted at least 17 points.
At half-time, they led by eight. Like game two, it probably should’ve been more, and the 18-0 third-quarter run that cost them that game must’ve been the back of coach Nick Nurse’s mind when they went in at the break.
But this time GSW couldn’t launch their customary second-half barrage. Instead, the challengers came out and scored eight unanswered points before the Warriors registered, and Fred VanVleet and Danny Green dropped threes to suppress Golden State’s ambitions when they made runs.
The Raptors found their shooting again in game three, making over 50% of their field goals and 40% of their threes – two marks they fell well short of in game two – to take the win. Thompson’s absence helped here as he’s such a tough defender.
The Canadian side made the most of his woes here, and ought to have done the same in game two. Where that could bite them is that Thompson will be back for game four, and Durant has to be back for game five if he’s to make an impact on this series, and if it’s tied at 2-2 by that point, the Warriors lurch back towards strong favourites.
Another momentum swing?
This series is only three games old but already feels like its rolled over multiple bumps in fortune for each team. Game four looks poised to for another dip on the rollercoaster’s route.
We can’t know how sharp Thompson will be, but the fact he’s only missed one game must be encouraging for the home team given their other issues. He was the difference in game two, and if he finds his three-point range again, he can take this game away from Toronto.
That he’s returning and the line is at 4.5, a point and a half less than the opening number for game three, looks like an overreaction to the scoreline on Wednesday to me. That was just Toronto’s second win in their last 17 games in the Bay Area. Admittedly it means they’re now 4-1 for the whole season over Golden State and they handled the game very coolly given the stakes, but the Warriors won’t be too perturbed by the loss.
They’ve been here before, they know how to win big games, and, facing into the possibility of a 3-1 hole, they know what they’ve to do. Also, the visitors couldn’t be blamed for thinking they’ve done what they had to in this two-game trip west by winning one of the games. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if they weren’t quite pushing it to the same level in tonight’s game, so the Warriors having to cover 4.5 looks the side to be on at [1.92].
With his Splash Brother Klay back, Steph Curry won’t have to carry the offensive load as much in this one. The support should see Golden State push the total line of 215.5 close, and the preference is for the over at [1.94] given the stakes and Thompson’s return.
With Draymond Green having failed to oblige on the rebounds front in the last three games, he must be due to hit 11 or more boards in a game with so much on the line – if the Warriors go 3-1 down their odds of winning another title will soar – so we’ll take a shot on him one more time at evens on the Sportsbook to go over 10.5.
Source: US Sports