The Golden State Warriors’ bid for a three-peat is definitely going to be tested this year. The Toronto Raptors made a statement in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, winning 118-109 at home after leading for the last 29 minutes straight of game time.
In Game 2, the Warriors will attempt to take away the Raptors’ home-court advantage with a better performance, especially from their peripheral players (8 p.m. ET Sunday on ABC).
Golden State’s normally stacked squad isn’t quite at 100 percent now. Kevin Durant remains out with a calf injury, Andre Iguodala suffered a calf injury in Game 1 but will play and DeMarcus Cousins isn’t close to 100 percent after tearing his quad muscle in the first round.
Can Toronto take advantage of the Warriors’ reduced state again and jump out to a commanding 2-0 lead? Or will the battle-tested Golden State squad fight back? Let’s preview this game’s main storylines and then present your best betting strategies.
Will DeMarcus Cousins Look Closer to Real Game Shape?
You have to feel for Cousins. The torn quad muscle he suffered in Game 2 of the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers is not a small injury. He was also limited all year as he returned from an Achilles tear suffered last season.
However, he didn’t look to be in game shape during his eight minutes in Game 1. The big-bodied center had trouble moving quickly and was visibly winded at several different points. He looked out of place among the rest of the guys on the floor, who have been able to get in plenty of cardio throughout the season.
Golden State needs Cousins to be a bit closer to his normal self in Game 2. Raptors center Marc Gasol punished the Warriors’ smaller bigs in Game 1 and Golden State could use a bigger body to try a different approach on Sunday.
Can Toronto Continue to Keep Golden State’s Offensive Rebounding Under Control?
In the playoffs, the Warriors rank third out of 16 teams in percentage of available rebounds grabbed (51.7). The Raptors are all the way down at 14th (47.8 percent). In Game 1, Golden State was limited to nine offensive rebounds, but the team had a whopping 20 second-chance points on those rebounds.
A huge chunk of the Warriors’ scoring came from those second-chance points and in transition. When they had to generate an initial shot against the Raptors’ set half-court defense, it usually wasn’t a very high-percentage attempt. That’s why it’s important that Golden State continues to pound the glass aggressively.
The Raptors’ key big men (Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam) aren’t known for their great rebounding. Can they continue to rebound well enough to prevent too many Golden State second-chance points?
Will the Warriors Get 13 to 15 Points From a Bench Player?
There’s no doubt that the resurgence of Fred VanVleet has been front and center in the Raptors winning their last five playoff games. FVV has scored between 13 and 21 points in his last four games, all off the bench.
That is the kind of consistent offensive support that the Warriors could really use with Kevin Durant out and DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Iguodala not at 100 percent. On Thursday, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson did their normal work with 55 combined points. Only one other player (Draymond Green) reached double figures and he only had 10 points.
Golden State just needs some sort of lift, whether it comes from Cousins, Kevon Looney, Quinn Cook, Shaun Livingston or even Jonas Jerebko. The Raptors have too many offensive options contributing right now for the Warriors to expect Steph and Klay to save them.
Our Betting Preview’s Golden State Warriors vs Toronto Raptors Betting Picks & Predictions Verdict for Game 2
I think the Warriors are in a bit of trouble here. They have Kevin Durant out and DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Iguodala both hobbled, but the Raptors are healthy and have a lot of their role players contributing at the right time.
For me, Iguodala’s Game 1 injury is the factor in swinging the outcome of Game 2. The Warriors have a strong defensive identity when Durant is out and when Cousins can’t provide his normal offensive contributions, but a limited Iggy really detracts from that.
I expect Toronto to keep running in transition at home, taking advantage of Golden State’s hobbled vets and unreliable depth. So these are the Game 2 predictions with picks for this preview:
- The Raptors are now listed as 2-point favorites with all the top 10 USA betting sites. The best play here is to bet on the Raptors -2pts @ -110 with Bovada. The other firms go -115.
- Toronto will push the pace, and Golden State should oblige, knowing how strong the Raptors’ half-court defense is. I recommend putting money on the over 214.5pts @ -110 with BetOnline.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.