Series Preview: 2019 NBA Finals

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DUBS RETURN TO THE NBA FINALS
The Warriors have earned another trip to the NBA Finals, and will enter the seven game series with all kinds of momentum on their side. The team has won six playoff games in a row dating back to Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Houston Rockets and, with two wins in Portland, extended its own NBA record winning at least one road game in 22 consecutive playoff series. This marks the team’s fifth appearance in as many years, making the Warriors the first team since the mid 1960's Boston Celtics (1959-1966) to advance to five straight Finals, and the first team to ever win the Western Conference five consecutive times.

MATCHUP AT A GLANCE

Playoff Ranks
GSW TOR
12-4 12-6
PTS: 118.1 (1st) PTS: 105.0 (10th)
REB: 43.5 (8th) REB: 41.9 (13th)
AST: 28.5 (1st) AST: 22.8 (8th)

LAST TIME OUT
The Warriors completed the sweep against the Portland Trail Blazers in an overtime thriller that came down to the final play, as Klay Thompson defended a potential game-winning shot from Damian Lillard. The shot was off the mark and Stephen Curry grabbed the rebound, securing a 119-117 win on Monday that completed a four-game series sweep in the Western Conference Finals. Stephen Curry led the way with a 37-point, 13-rebound, 11-assist triple-double, and Draymond Green added his own 18 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists. They were the first teammates in NBA postseason history to record a triple double in the same game. » Full Game Recap

A LOOK BACK AT THE WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
The Warriors successfully swept the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals, winning each of the final three games with second half comebacks of at least 17 points. They fended-off the backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum with traps and aggressive defense, and survived the career night of Meyers Leonard (25 first-half points, the most in any game in his NBA and college career) in Game 4. Draymond Green — who averaged 16.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 2.3 steals, and 2.2 blocks throughout the series — finished with back-to-back triple doubles, and Stephen Curry averaged 36.5 points on 42.5 percent from beyond the arc. Head Coach Steve Kerr called the series an “uphill climb all the way,” though, as the team was able to overcome the absence of stars Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, and Andre Iguodala (missed Game 4 with a lower-leg injury), as well as overcome the early deficits from the Trail Blazers’ hot starts in the final three games.

DUBS VS. RAPTORS AT A GLANCE
The Warriors played the Toronto Raptors twice during the regular season, with both games ending in disappointment for the Dubs. Their first matchup was an overtime thriller in Canada, where the squad came back from an 18-point deficit to force overtime, but eventually fell 131-128. Though Golden State was without Stephen Curry (recovering from a strained groin) for that game, Kevin Durant scored 51 points while receiving help from Klay Thompson (23 points) and Jonas Jerebko (20 points). When the Warriors hosted the Raptors for their second game of the year, Toronto was without their star forward Kawhi Leonard (out with a bruised hip). Durant had another strong showing against their opponent from the East, putting up 30 points in the contest, but the Dubs could not overcome a combination of their own off-shooting night and the Raptors’ hot start. Unable to match the offensive outburst from Kyle Lowry (23 points), Serge Ibaka, (20 points, 12 rebounds), and Danny Green (15 points), the Warriors trailed by double-digits the entire second half and lost the game 113-93, the first time the Dubs lost to the Toronto squad on Warriors Ground in 14 years. Both games were came prior to DeMarcus Cousins’ return from his Achilles injury, so it remains to be seen what kind of impact he could have on the floor against Toronto should he be able to play during the NBA Finals.

LAST GAME'S STARTERS
GSW: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Alfonzo McKinnie, Draymond Green and Jordan Bell
TOR: Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol

INJURY & ROSTER NOTES
GSW: Kevin Durant (strained calf) is out. DeMarcus Cousins (torn quad) is questionable. Team Notes
TOR: OG Anunoby (abdomen) and Chris Boucher (back) are day-to-day. Team Notes

TEAM PLAYOFF LEADERS

GSW TOR
PTS: Durant (34.2) PTS: Leonard (31.2)
REB: Green (9.2) REB: Leonard (8.2)
AST: Green (8.1) AST: Lowry (7.3)

RAPTORS SCOUTING REPORT
The Raptors are lead by a foe familiar to the Warriors: Kawhi Leonard. Though he entered the league seven years ago as a defense-minded player with the San Antonio Spurs, he has evolved into one of the premier two-way players in the NBA; he was traded to the Raptors prior to the start of the season and responded with averages of 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds, both career highs, to go along with almost two steals per game. Though he performed well during the season, he flourished during the Eastern Conference’s Semifinals (34.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.3 steals) and Finals (29.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.2 steals) where he played perhaps the largest role in advancing his team through the Playoffs. Also acquired during the season was veteran stretch-center Marc Gasol, who has the ability to shoot from deep, has a keen eye when passing, and can effectively cover any opposing player in the post. The two fit a Toronto system that has been defined by efficient scoring and a quick-switching defense this postseason; compared to the other eight playoff teams from the East, the Raptors ranked third in field goal percentage (44.1 percent), third in 3-point field goal percentage (34.5 percent), and second in steals (8.0) per game. Adding to the team’s athletic abilities are Pascal Siakam (16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 0.7 blocks), Serge Ibaka (15 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.4 blocks) and Kyle Lowry (14.2 points, 8.7 assists, 1.4 steals), a core of three players in their third year together with the team.

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