NBA Finals Report
Forgive us for often dragging out the 20-plus-year quote by then-Houston Rockets head coach Rudy Tomjanovich as he proclaimed his two-time NBA Finals winners (see 1994 and '95) had the "heart of a champion".
Say the same for the Golden State Warriors.
No Kevin Durant - for a seventh consecutive post-season game - with a calf sprain (or maybe it is an Achilles injury?) - for starters plus in-game injuries suffered by F Kevon Looney and G Klay Thompson plus there's megastar G Stephen Curry feeling ill and still sucking it up so that he could play 40 minutes.
The end result: A gutty, hang-on-for-dear-life 109-104 win in these NBA Finals by the 2-point underdog Warriors - a slam-bang winner for Jim Hurley's Network - and a split in the first two games North of the Border with Game 3 shifting back to Oakland on Wednesday night and with serious questions as to whether Durant / Looney / Thompson can play this pivotal game out West.
From a pointspread view, the Raptors entered Game 2 with a sizzling 8-3 ATS (against the spread) record at home this post-season that included four straight spread wins until G-State crashed the party with Sunday night's victory ... you've got to go back to that Mother's Day evening bounce-round-the-hoop game-winning basket by Kawhi Leonard to beat Philadelphia in a Game 7 to find the last time the Raptors failed to cover a home game. Really!
THE NBA FINALS
GOLDEN STATE 109, TORONTO 104 - Series tied 1-1
Ask anyone about what was the key number in Game 2 of these NBA Finals and it's likely they'll say ... 18-0. That's the second-half start the Warriors charged out to - remember Golden State was down 59-54 at the break - right outta intermission and whether it was a few Thompson buckets or some key points from do-it-all F Draymond Green (see 17 points / 10 rebounds / 9 assists) the proverbial bottom line is Steve Kerr's club "won" this Game 2 with that surge to start the third quarter.
Two things here:
Toronto missed a batch of "makeable" shots during this four-to-five-minute stretch and - for some reason - Raptors' first-year head coach Nick Nurse eschewed calling time outs which totally boggled our mind. In any event, the Raptors were forced to play catch-up the rest of the way and there was no Game 1 magic from Pascal Siakam who followed up his 32-point showing in Game 1 with a shoddy 5-of-18 field-goal night for just 12 points in 40 minutes in Game 2 plus note the entire starting five for the Eastern Conference champions registered just a 22-of-63 stat line from the floor and never mind that stars Leonard (- 14) and Kyle Lowry (- 17) were MIA for major portions of this tilt. True, Nurse received a hearty 17-point performance from reserve G Fred VanVleet (only 2-of-8 from downtown, however) but why not more minutes from benchies Serge Ibaka (10 boards in 16 minutes of play) and Norman Powell (a far-and-away team-best + 13 when he was on the floor)?
Toronto, indeed, may rue the day it didn't answer the bell to start the third quarter of Game 2 - especially if the Raptors had to lose this series in seven games - and Golden State's already saying this was one of the franchise's proudest moments: There were 34 assists on 38 made baskets, there was Herculean play from DeMarcus Cousins who shocked us by playing 27 minutes (remember we thought he was good for 7-to-10 minutes per outing in this series, no more) with 11 points / 10 rebs / 6 assists (and some of his find-the-open-man passes were true dandies!) and backup guard Quinn Cook (3-of-5 on triples) ... but credit Kerr for getting the Warriors to ambush the Raptors out of the second-half starting gate and for squeezing everything he could from those less-heralded Dubs.
P.S., don't sleep on that game-sealing triple by one-time NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala with 5.9 seconds left but a "lesser man" may have passed that up and looked to eat up more game clock.
Okay, so the Raptors' home spread streak was KO'd but the big question is where will this series stand the next time these clubs come back to Canada for a Game 5?
Here's the 2019 NBA Finals game-by-game results between the Warriors and the Raptors. Note home teams are in CAPS below:
|5-30||TORONTO||- 1.5||Golden St||118-109|
|6-2||Golden St||+ 2||TORONTO||109-104|
2019 NBA PLAYOFFS POINTSPREADS
Toronto 11-9-1 (.550)
Golden State 8-9-1 (.471)
THE BASEBALL NOTEBOOK
There was a bundle of key series being played in Major-League Baseball this past weekend but mark one of 'em above the rest that had true early-June meaning:
The St. Louis Cardinals (30-28) - left for dead by many thanks to a brutal month of May - put the weekend brooms to the rival Chicago Cubs with a straight-set sweep of 2-1 (in 10 innings), 7-4 (a game that "featured" a rain delay of three hours and 37 minutes) and 2-1 and so - faster than you can say Ozzie Smith - the Redbirds are back in the hunt in the National League Central, just three games back of division-leading Milwaukee and a mere 1.5 games behind these Cubbies.
The Cards were laying - 127 and - 153 in the first two games of the set versus the Cubbies and Sunday's game was a Pick 'Em - but you can expect St. Loo to be laying heavy prices this weekend against incoming Cincinnati before this Cards-Cubs rivalry resumes this weekend at Wrigley Field.