Quick reminder: we have a Game 4 Watch Party at Hot Tokyo Fried Chicken (King and Peter) – tickets are $10 and that includes a beer – get your tickets and see you there!
Klay Thompson is likely questionable for Game 3. Which means he’ll definitely play. I refuse to get my hopes high on this one because my hopes have a tendency to come crashing down, much like Kevon Looney who is now out indefinitely. Call me cynical but I do believe Looney got injured while trying to exaggerate the contact he got from Kawhi Leonard’s drive, so I feel there’s definitely an element justice there. I do have a tendency to resort to an extreme position during these playoff series because I simply find myself hating the other team. It’s like me and the Raptors have an incestious Jaime/Cersei relationship going.
While it’s difficult to figure out which Warrior you absolutely hate more – Curry or Thompson – I know which one I feel more comfortable taking a shot as a Raptors fan: Curry. Thompson reminds me of Dell Curry and Reggie Miller in that he doesn’t need to be set in any sort of way to get a shot off. It’s like his shot mechanics are separate from how is body is angled, and one doesn’t influence the other. He’s also better at seeking out a matchup against Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet in the high-post off curls and getting a shot off, and given the Raptors tendency to switch, that look will always be there. The Raptors strategy of putting Pascal Siakam on him was a sound one even if Thompson went off a bit to start Game 2. If Durant’s not playing and you need to put Siakam’s length on someone, putting it on Thompson over Draymond Green is a fine decision.
The 18-0 has probably a lot of articles written about it somewhere so what’s one more paragraph here? The Raptors offense to start the third quarter was jumper-heavy and when they mised they were slow in tracking back. They also didn’t get to the line (a product of having a jumper-heavy offense). This trend started late in the second quarter with the Norm miss/Klay three being the six-point swing that truly swung momentum. That sequence is what started the Warriors resurgence. The Raptors have to put more pressure on the officials, much like Golden State does. If it weren’t for the loose whistle and some pretty “savvy” play from the Warriors (like cutting in front of a guy and abrubptly stopping), the Raptors would’ve been up 20. Just like the Warriors kept themselves in the game when their jumpers weren’t going in, the Raptors have to do similar to avoid another game-changing run.
There was a weird comment where Curry called leaving Iguodala open disprespectful but I posit that travelling right before the three was more egregious. The L2M report came out which deemed that Andre Iguodala’s three should have never happened as Curry had turned the ball over before that. Now what the point of releasing that information the day after is when you can review it when it happened, I never quite figured out. I like the league trying to be more transparent but if transparency doesn’t yield corrective action, what exactly is the objective? If it’s to make me feel better, that’s not happening. I don’t mind if they want to stop the game 10 times to get a call right in the last two minutes.
Kawhi Leonard’s suing Nike over the use of his logo. When that story came out the first thing many of us probably thought about was perhaps Butch Carter suing Marcus Camby in 2000. That happened on the eve of a playoff series against the Knicks. He then defended his actions while burning bridges with the league. Nothing of that sort is happening here but the timing could be seen as odd. After Marc Stein’s report about the Clippers possibly trying to buy it from Nike and then hold Kawhi “hostage”, perhaps this move was of greater urgency than what one might think. Either way, I’m pretty sure when Kawhi’s lawyers told Kawhi this he was nodding while looking direclty into the sun and forgot everything about it when he hung up the phone. Apparently Kawhi also bought a house in Toronto. Now the question is whether he’ll live in it or AirBnb it.
So with Game 3 looming, how are you feeling? I’m quite confident because overall we’ve been the better team, the myth of the Warriors being this unbeatable force is busted, and the Warriors are banged up. Nick Nurse has also shown an ability to adjust between games, so it’ll be interesting to see if he changes his approach of leaving weaker shooters open in favor of collapsing on their key guys. If OG Anunoby plays it will give Nurse scramble options that can diminish that height advantage that Klay Thompson usually has. Of course, nobody has any clue if he will play or not so best to wait till Game 3. His status is just about as shrouded in mystery as Kevin Durant’s. All I know is that it took me six weeks to be normal after an appendicitis and OG’s happens to have gotten infected. But then again medicine probably has advanced a little in 25 years.
That law of averages/regression to the mean thing hasn’t kicked in for Danny Green yet so I say it has to happen in Game 3. Otherwise we’re approaching the extreme ends of the normal distribution here. Green’s defense against Curry was very good in the first half and how him and Marc Gasol navigate the high screen needs to be given a lot of credit. That sequence up top is critical to the rest of the 15 seconds in the possession, and so far it has been more or less controlled. If there is an adjustment the Steve Kerr would try to make it is to see how he can unlock Curry in those situations quicker. In Game 2 we saw Curry give the ball up quicker to make Gasol pay for hedging, but it still yielded results the Raptors could live with. Keep an eye on that as we go to Game 3 as GSW has to see that as a point of improvement. I would expect Golden State to come out charging in Game 3 so the objective of the first quarter will be simple: don’t get blown out. Then we’ll take it from there.