So am I missing something? The casual fan gets a pass, but what's with all the talking heads completely dismissing the Raptors. A couple of things :
Siakam is a really good defender and last I checked Giannis isn't on GSW.
Unless Boogie comes back in pre-injury, NBA Finals shape, GSW has no 1 that can stop Gasol in the paint if Nurse decides to play through him (which is what I would do)
What Gasol presents as a passer and post player hasn't really been displayed. Kawhi Siakam Lowry flying around off the ball could be scary. Slowing down the pace by using the paint but still getting the ball movement for possible 3s and easy mid range is how they win. I know, easier said than done.
Lastly, as a huge fan of defense the 4th qtr of Game 6 was thrilling. Toronto was playing out of their minds. They have length, activity, effort, switchable guys at all positions, and Lowry is not Kyrie on D. Steph is going to have to work for drives to the lane. Their team defense is REAL. (And for all the complaints, how bout a S/O to the refs for letting both teams play. I'm sorry, but playing defense and being physical sound like two things that go hand in hand and it made for great basketball and to a lesser extent, TV) I'm going with Toronto in 6 if KD doesn't play. And in 7 if he doesn't til game 4.
See, they do need Kevin Durant. This missive came to me before the start of the Finals, so at 0-0 it's worth discussion; even at 1-0 Raptors. I picked Warriors in 6 and am sticking with my story. But a lot of people got fooled by the way the Warriors beat an overachieving Portland team basically missing its two best big men (Enes Kanter played with a separated shoulder) and with probably the worst front line in the league. Really, who would you rather have Markkanen, Lopez and Porter? Or Maurice Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu and Mason Plumlee/Meyers Leonard? Whoever they are. Yes, that was a conference finals starting front line. I'll still be surprised to see the Raptors win.
I still can't figure out how the Raptors beat the 76ers. But no one is invincible, and several "invincible" teams have lost in the Finals. It's why they play the games and all that, as we hear. I remember many "invincible" teams that lost. The '89 Lakers were 11-0 going into the Finals and were swept, though Magic got hurt. The Celtics' winningest season even was 1972-73 and then John Havlicek was hurt during the conference finals and the Knicks went on to win the title. I reminder the great Kobe/Shaq/Malone/Payton 2004 Lakers who lost in five to the Pistons amidst one of the great meltdowns ever. So stuff happens. I'm surprised, though only somewhat, the Raptors are in the Finals because I could hardly ever recall a seventh game when everyone but one player ran away from the ball, and the team won, that being Game 7 against the 76ers.
The story of the Eastern Conference finals was which star would be better since neither team had a second All-Star. Yes, I know, Khris Middleton, but he's a collateral advantage. As we saw in the playoffs, he's merely a very good player. He had at least 20 points in one of the last eight playoff games and twice in single digits in the last four even as they were triple teaming Giannis. But good for Toronto, and good for Leonard after his mysterious last season with the Spurs. I didn't see how even without Durant that Toronto can score enough (of course, I also didn't see it against Milwaukee) and against a Warriors team with defenders to match and a superior coaching staff. But you had it right, at least in Game 1, with Gasol and Siakam. Still, we all hope for a long series because Zion doesn't play again until July. By the way, when the Bulls won their first title in 1991, by far the overwhelming national consensus—yes, even with Michael Jordan—was a first time finalist Bulls weren't beating the veteran Lakers with Finals star Magic Johnson. There was a short-lived all-sports newspaper then known as the National. After the Bulls lost Game 1 at home, they devoted an entire column to my pick of the Bulls winning and how provincial we in the Midwest were and how little real basketball we understood.