The Golden State Warriors earned their place in the history books by advancing to the NBA Finals for a fifth straight year. This time, they will face off against a Finals newbie, the Toronto Raptors, who have made it this far for the first time in franchise history.
But the Raptors have home-court advantage and are playing stellar defence right now. Do they have what it takes to stop the Warriors attempted at a three-peat? Let's take a look at the teams' chances, and how you should bet when considering an NBA wager at the sportsbooks.
Who Has The Edge: Offence
Golden State owned the highest scoring offence in the NBA this season with an average of 117.3 points per game. However, Kevin Durant’s injury status has cast a shadow of doubt about how dominant this group can be. For the record, Durant’s absence didn’t keep the Warriors from closing out the Houston Rockets and then taking down the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals. With Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green locked in, Golden State still has plenty of firepower on offence. Also, the return of DeMarcus Cousins, who is questionable for Game 1, could add another weapon to the Warriors.
Meanwhile, Toronto seemed to figure things out on offence while winning four straight against the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Raptors, led by Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam, averaged 110.8 points per game during that four-game winning streak. Do they have enough let in the tank to keep up with the Warriors? The Raptors did win the regular season series, scoring at least 113 points each time.
Who Has The Edge: Defence
The Raptors should have the edge defensively in this series, although it will be interesting to see how this team matches up with Golden State. Toronto owns the second-best defence in the NBA during the postseason, holding opponents to an average of 99.6 points per game. They held league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to a True Shooting Percentage of 51% compared to the 62% he posted in the first two rounds and 64% in the regular season. And prior to that, the Raptors held the Philadelphia 76ers four-headed monster to 96 points or less in five of the seven games in Round 2.
The Raptors have four elite defenders in Leonard, Marc Gasol, Pascal Siakam and Fred Vanvleet. They’ll have to find a way to slow at least a couple of the Warriors’ stars.
The Warriors can be a similarly good defensive team and we’ve seen that since Durant went out. However, many times this season, this team was not focussed on that end of the court. Over the last six game, they’ve come to life. We’ll see if that carries over into the Finals.
The Warriors have already achieved something that hadn’t been done in over 50 years by reaching five straight NBA Finals. Curry and company are chasing their fourth championship in that span.
Meanwhile, Toronto doesn’t have much Finals experience outside of Leonard and Danny Green. However, they do have home-court in this series.
Coaching is an interesting dynamic here as Nurse has proven to be a very sharp mind. He made great adjustments after Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals and Milwaukee had no answers. Even so, Steve Kerr is one of the best in the business. He’s seen it all whereas a lot of this is new to Nurse.