Game 6 Preview: Raptors vs Warriors
Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com
Toronto Raptors (3-2) @ Golden State Warriors (2-3)
When: Thursday, June 13th 9 P.M. ET
Where: Oracle Arena
Leading into tonight’s game:
- Injury report: For the Raptors, Jordan Loyd (coach’s decision) is listed as out. For the Warriors, Kevin Durant (right achilles tendon rupture) is listed as out. Kevon Looney (right 1st costal cartilage non-displaced fracture) is listed as questionable.
- Back in the bay: The Raptors are back in Oakland to face the Warriors for Game 6 of the NBA Finals. This will be the final NBA game played at Oracle Arena, as the Warriors will play at a new arena beginning next season. Toronto is 3-0 at Oracle this season (2-0 in the postseason and 1-0 during the team’s lone regular-season visit). With a 3-2 series lead, the Raptors are in a position to close out the series on the road. The last time Toronto closed out a playoff series on the road was a 2018 first-round series against the Washington Wizards.
- Recent History: The Raptors hosted the Warriors in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena with a 3-1 series lead. Golden State made a playoff opponent record 20 three-pointers in the game, and though things went down to the final buzzer, the Warriors ended up victorious, winning a 106-105 decision to extend the series to at least six games. Toronto led by six with 3:28 remaining, but the Warriors quickly hit a trio of three-pointers to go ahead by three. Kyle Lowry got the Raptors within one on a layup, but Draymond Green got a hand on Lowry's final three-point attempt at the buzzer. Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors with 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, Kyle Lowry added 18 points and six assists and Marc Gasol scored 17 points. Steph Curry led all scorers with 31 points and Klay Thompson added 26 points.
- Keeping calm: Nick Nurse has praised Kawhi Leonard’s ability to stay even-keeled through the highs and lows of postseason basketball, but Toronto’s head coach is also getting noticed for staying cool under pressure. While Nurse’s steady temperament might be a new observation to some, Nurse’s players have watched their coach take everything in stride dating back to day one of training camp. “I think what Nick has done is kind of keep the mentality of our team the same,” Kyle Lowry said. “He doesn't get too up, he doesn't get too down. He yelled at us, literally, I think twice this year. Kind of just attests to his confidence in who he is as a coach, who we are as a team, how he believes in us. We are all grown men, and he talks to us as grown men. We do our jobs and come in and work, and we're ready to go.”
- Locking in on defence: In Toronto’s Game 5 loss at home, the Warriors were lights out from beyond the arc from start to finish. Golden State shot 46 percent from the floor in the game, and 48 percent from deep, making 20-of-42 three-point attempts. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson combined to shoot 12-for-27 from three, eclipsing Toronto’s total three-pointers made as a team (8-for-32). “When they're on the floor, you got to be aware of them,” Kyle Lowry said. “They're probably two of the top, whatever, all-time shooters in the game of basketball. So when they step on the floor first quarter, second quarter, third quarter, fourth quarter, you got to be aware of them at all times.” Heading into Game 6, the Raptors know they're not going to be able to shut out either member of Golden State’s explosive backcourt, but they’re hoping to slow them. “These guys are going to get shots off,” Lowry said. “They’re going to get up their attempts. They’re going to make shots. But you’ve got to make them a little bit tougher sometimes. They got a couple of loose ball offensive rebounds, transition breakdowns (in Game 5)."
- Focus Forward: Kawhi Leonard is averaging 29.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.2 blocks per game in the Finals. He's scored 710 points in this postseason, the fifth most in NBA history for points scored in a single playoff season. In addition to putting up these numbers, he’s also being counted on for his stellar defensive skills. Though Kyle Lowry and Nick Nurse have both watched and admired Leonard's game from afar in years past, getting to work toward a common goal with him brings the admiration to a whole other level. “I think he's the best two-way basketball player in the NBA,” Lowry said. “He just goes. I've seen some stuff from him this year that just you say, Wow. You appreciate the work that's put in. He works extremely hard at his game and works extremely hard on his body. And he loves this basketball thing. He loves it.” Toronto’s head coach often references how focused Leonard is during practices, film sessions, and timeout huddles. For Nurse, the opportunity to coach Leonard has been both eye-opening and affirming. “He's certainly tough, strong and composed,” Nurse said. “From the first preseason game to now, it continues to be interesting to just watch this guy do what he does. It's without a doubt the best thing about this thing is that somehow I wound up on the sideline getting to watch this guy play up close. It's really cool.”