Good afternoon, folks. DeMarcus Cousins got the start in Game 2 and came through when the Warriors need him most. Let’s talk NBA Finals.
(1) Warriors – 109 @ (2) Raptors – 104 (Tied 1-1)
- Game 2 of the NBA Finals put everyone’s patience up to the test early. The Golden State Warriors fought through a horrendous first-half shooting slump – thanks to plenty of whistles – to overcome a five-point halftime deficit and steal a win on the road against the Toronto Raptors. A combined 48 fouls between the two teams extended the normal run time an NBA game by about 20 minutes.
- The big headline pregame was the insertion of Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins into the starting lineup despite playing only eight minutes in Game 1 and missing the previous 14 playoff games. As it was announced shortly before tipoff, I wondered why head coach Steve Kerr would decide to go this route considering Kevon Looney had provided valuable minutes in Cousins absence. As the first quarter rolled on and Cousins picked up ticky-tack fouls, turned the ball over, and struggled to play any semblance of defense, his presence in the rotation looked at risk. As a matter of fact, the entire Warriors team outside of a red-hot Klay Thompson (18 first-half points) couldn’t find the bucket. Steph Curry began the game 0-6 and the team shot under 30 percent for the majority of the half. Thompson kept the team alive in the first quarter and then Cousins came alive in the second. The former Kentucky big dropped in a triple and made all four of his shots at the free throw line. He made himself feel like a part of the game for the first time all series. Cousins finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and two blocks. Just in time, too. Curry (flu?), Andre Iguodala (leg), and Kevon Looney (chest contusion) were all dealing with injuries suffered throughout the first half.
- But then Curry got going. With about four minutes left in the first half, the two-time MVP caught fire. Curry poured in 12 points on four straight made buckets to end the half and trimmed a double-digit Raptors lead to only five. Those last few minutes would foreshadow the rest of the evening.
- Looney would end up missing the second half due to his injury, giving Cousins all the minutes he could handle. And he made every single one of them count. He was inhaling rebounds, running the break, dishing out beautiful passes. He was the ideal version of Cousins that the Warriors dreamt of when they signed in the offseason. Once trailing 54-59 at halftime, the Warriors rattled off an 18-0 run in just under six minutes. Per Elias, it was the longest run to start a half in NBA Finals history. A five-point lead for Toronto evaporated into a 13-point hole before the quarter could even reach the halfway mark. The thing that impressed me the most about Game 1 was how the Raptors didn’t crumble whenever the Warriors threatened to go on one of its patented third-quarter spirit-breaking runs. However, they snapped right in half during Game 2 with half the Warriors injured and Kevin Durant still on the mend.
- Toronto controlled a 23-0 (you read that correctly) advantage in second-chance points, but the Warriors made it a point to lock down Pascal Siakam, holding him to only 12 points on 5-18 shooting after his 32-point exhibition in Game 1. Kawhi Leonard still dominated, posting 34 points and 14 rebounds (and he also might be the strongest man alive), but the Warriors maintained at least a five-point lead for practically the entire second-half. Even with Thompson leaving for the locker room with eight minutes left after pulling his hamstring (he led the Warriors in scoring with 25 points), Curry, Cousins, and Draymond Green led the way. A massive three-pointer by Iguodala put Golden State up five with 5.9 seconds left and put the game away for good. Before that made three, the Warriors went over five minutes without a field goal. As for Thompson’s status for Game 3, he says he’s going to play. His coach had a different – yet similar – thought.
- “Klay said he’ll be fine, but Klay can be half-dead and he’d say he’s [fine]. We’ll see,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He pulled his hamstring. He thinks it’s minor — I don’t know what that means going forward.” The Warriors later clarified that he did not pull it and that it was simply excessive tightness.
Klay Thompson: “See you in the Bay, Aubrey. You weren’t talking tonight. Bum ass.”
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) June 3, 2019
- I’d expect Thompson to be ready for Game 3. Which isn’t encouraging to Raptors fans in any way. Without Thompson, a flu-ridden Curry, minor injuries to Iguodala and Looney, no Durant, a rusty Cousins, and a pitiful bench (shoutout to Quinn Cook’s three made second-half triples, though), Golden State still won this game. The Warriors missed 20 of its first 28 shot attempts. But they limited Toronto to under 38 percent shooting from the field, locked down Siakam, and let Leonard do all the work with double-teams constantly collapsing on him. Fred VanVleet did add 17 points for Toronto, but no other Raptor outside of VanVleet and Leonard scored more than 13 points.
- This is also a perfect time to remind everyone that Kevin Durant could be back by Game 4, if not Game 3. If Toronto couldn’t win Game 2 where nearly everything went in its favor, I don’t know how the Raptors can win in Oakland with a healthy Durant and a revitalized Cousins.
- Lastly, we need to apologize to Drake as he was not the celebrity center of attention. That title belonged to President Barack Obama, who watched the game from the stands next to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. At one point, the jumbotron focused in on Obama with chants of “MVP” erupting from the Canadian crowd along with a standing ovation. You LOVE to see it.
- Game 3 is Wednesday in Oakland.
|DeMarcus Cousins (GSW)||109-104 W @ TOR||11||3-8 (1-3)||10||6||0||2||3||+12||27|
|Jodie Meeks (TOR)||104-109 L vs. GSW||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
Wednesday, June 5: ABC – 9:00 P.M. EST (Oracle Arena)