After an elating series versus the Milwaukee Bucks, the Raptors begin their journey to dethrone the Golden State Warriors in the Finals. Jannelle Moore of Golden State of Mind was kind enough to answer three questions about the upcoming series:
Heading into the Finals, I’d like to hear about the mindset of fans in the Bay Area. Is Kevin Durant’s absence looming over the city, or is the common belief that the Warriors will take the series regardless? What are going to be the key factors in taking down the Raptors sans-Durant?
A little bit of both. KD’s absence is very much a concern. For the most part, Warriors fans want him on the floor in the Finals. No question about that. However, they are also optimistic about their chances. The general consensus is that the Warriors will win in six.
The key factors in taking down the Raptors are being able to adjust when moving the ball and staying aggressive on defense. Toronto will more than likely sell out and overplay and clog the passing lanes to deny the pass. They will also run Steph and Klay off the three. When they do that or trap, the Warriors should run pick and roll sets. They should also make a concerted effort to not only move the ball on offense but move off the ball as well. The offense becomes stagnant when, for instance, KD isos but the rest of the players just stand there and wait for him to shoot instead of moving constantly. The Warriors should dictate the pace and tempo of the games and stay aggressive on defense.
Seeing as the Raptors have never made it this far before, Toronto fans are new to this. How are the Finals different from every other playoff series? Are there any strategies that work in preceding rounds that will prove ineffective in the Finals?
The Finals are different because everything is magnified, and rightfully so. A title is at stake so the vibe is much more intense. However, strategies should evolve depending on the team you’re playing not the round. What works on one team might not work on another whether it’s the Finals or not.
Taking health out of the equation, who do you predict will be the best player in this series? Do you view the Kawhi-led Raptors in a similar light to the LeBron-led Cavaliers of the past few years?
I believe that it’s a toss-up between Steph and Kawhi for the best player of the series because they are on such a tear right now and are full of momentum. As far as comparing a Kawhi-led Raptors squad to LeBron’s Cavs is concerned, I would say no.
For one, some of those Cavs teams struggled mid-season before “flipping the switch” — the Raptors were at the top or near the top of the east throughout the season. Secondly, Toronto’s defense is better than those Cleveland teams.
Thanks to Jannelle for speaking with us! Make sure to check out Golden State of Mind as the series progresses for more Warriors content.