This will be the fifth consecutive year the Warriors have made the finals and they’ve won three championships during that span, including the last two years. All four NBA Finals were played against the Cavaliers, but this year they’ll play the Raptors.
Toronto won their first Eastern Conference Championship this season and will, therefore, play in their first NBA Finals, but Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green both have NBA Finals experience with the Spurs, which should help ease the nerves of the rest of the team.
Here are the odds on how many games will be played in the 2019 NBA Finals: (Odds from America’s Bookie)
• Series Ends in 4 Games: +375 Odds • Series Ends in 5 Games: +200 Odds • Series Ends in 6 Games: +135 Odds • Series Ends in 7 Games: +185 Odds
You really can’t rule out any result in this series. The Kawhi-led Raptors have proven to be much better than the DeRozan-led Raptors, but this series could go multiple ways.
Kevin Durant looks like he’ll miss at least the opening game and it could be even longer, as he still hasn’t progressed to on-court work yet. DeMarcus Cousins could come back in the series as well, but I’m not sure how effective a rusty Cousins will be in this series.
The Warriors didn’t need either player in the WCF. Stephen Curry turned it on against the Trail Blazers, averaging 36.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG and 7.3 APG in 39.5 MPG. Draymond Green also had an incredible series, averaging 16.5 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 8.8 APG, 2.8 BPG, and 2.3 SPG.
Toronto can’t afford giving up the momentum in game 1. The Raptors have the home court advantage in the series, but it’s imperative they win the opener. They lost game 1 at home in the first round to the Magic and lost the first two on the road to the Bucks. The good news if you’re a Raptors fan is that Toronto is 8-2 at home in the playoffs.
Leonard is having career-best playoffs this season. He’s averaging 31.2 PPG, 8.8 RPG and 3.8 APG in 38.7 MPG. I expect Leonard to continue dominating, but he can’t do it all.
PGs Kyle Lowry and Fred Vanvleet found their shooting stroke in the ECF. Lowry averaged 19.2 PPG and shot 48.8% from deep, while Vanvleet shot 16/28 (61.7%) on 3-pointers.
Pascal Siakam is dealing with an injury and hasn’t been himself. He averaged 22.6 PPG and 8.4 RPG against the Magic, 19.4 PPG and 6.4 RPG against the 76ers and 14.5 PPG and 6.5 RPG against the Bucks. If he continues his downtrend, the Raptors are unlikely to keep pace.
The Raptors won both H2H meetings during the regular season, but these teams haven’t played each other since December 12th, 2018. GSW are a completely different team once the playoffs roll around. However, the Raptors should feel confident they can win.
With the Raptors having home court advantage I expect them to push this series to the end, but it’ll require a hot start in the opener on Thursday. Leonard would love revenge on the Warriors after he was injured in the 2017 WCF by Zaza Pachulia.
• Best Bet: Series Ends in 7 Games (+185 Odds) at America’s Bookie