How much more fun are these Toronto Raptors when they’re playing their brand of basketball? Results be damned — though wins are great — Toronto got back to the matter at hand when it comes to them playing winning basketball: lockdown defense. If you would have asked most anybody before the season started where the Raptors struggles would be, almost everyone would have pointed to their half-court offense, which, they would have been correct. An extremely select few (see: none, really) would have taken a stab at saying the Raptors would regress to the point of being unrecognizable on the defensive end, and they would have looked like geniuses.
For at least one game at the beginning of their grueling, seven game, Western Conference road swing, Toronto looked like the Raptors of old. A Raptors team that had an identity that allowed them to not only win, but suffocate opposing teams’ offenses through precise switches, active hands and seemingly chaotic recoveries. If Toronto is going to have any chance of hunting a W against the defending champs, they’re going to need to not only keep that identity at the forefront, they’ll also have to amp up the effort to contain one of the greatest players to ever touch a basketball in Steph Curry. That’s to say nothing of a pair generational shooters and defenders in Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Draymond being generationally bad at shooting, of course.
Hot shooting and lockdown defense aside, this game could very likely come down to the turnover battle. The Raptors are exceptionally good at forcing their opponents into turnovers and the Warriors are exceptionally bad at holding onto the ball. If Toronto can make sure to impose their identity, stay locked in on the defensive end and maintain their poise by exerting enough pressure on and off the ball without fouling excessively, they could very well inch a little bit closer to the .500 mark while claiming a win against the team they triumphed over to grab their first every championship.
Lineup-wise, the Raptors are healthy aside from Dalano Banton; Andre Igoudala will miss the game for Golden State, as will Andrew Wiggins.
Where to watch:
TSN, 10 PM ET
Toronto Raptors – Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam
Golden State Warriors – Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole, Klay Thompson, Jonathan Kuminga, Draymond Green
Toronto Raptors – Dalano Banton (questionable – hip), Otto Porter Jr. (out – foot)
Golden State Warriors – Andre Iguodala (hip – out), Andrew Wiggings (out – non-COVID illness)