Monday’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors was one for the ages.
Golden State held a slight lead on the road for most of the game, but Kawhi Leonard led Toronto on a fourth-quarter run to nab a six-point advantage. However, a 9-0 run from the Warriors’ Splash Brothers took the lead back for the Warriors, and they would just barely hold onto that lead as Kyle Lowry missed a three-pointer at the buzzer. The Raptors now lead the best-of-seven series 3-2.
What can we expect in Game 6 today (9 p.m. ET Thursday on ABC)? Honestly, it’s tough to predict, with how many twists and turns this series has taken already.
The Warriors are undermanned with some injuries in this game, including Kevin Durant, while the Raptors are healthy, but on the road at a raucous Oracle Arena. Let’s flip through some key narratives for the game before this preview decides on the contest’s picks with our Toronto Raptors at Golden State Warriors Game 6 predictions.
Can the Warriors Get an Inside-Out Game Going?
As huge of a win as Game 5 was for the Warriors, it has to be at least a little bit disconcerting that they only won by one point despite getting 60 points from three-point range compared to 24 for the Raptors. Toronto consistently was able to work for easier shots in this game, leading 54-32 in points in the paint and 27-14 in free-throw attempts.
Golden State was hitting tough threes all game. The squad relied on those shots pretty heavily throughout the game, as they won despite losing the battles in rebounding, turnovers, two-point shooting percentage and free-throw percentage.
Since it’s not likely that the Warriors drain 20 three-pointers again without Kevin Durant against a stingy Raptors defense, they need to have more consistent scoring from other places.
Whether that’s in the form of post-ups or pick-and-rolls with Draymond Green or DeMarcus Cousins, or slashing from the guards, Golden State needs to add another dimension offensively to win today’s Game 6.
Will the Raptors Make a Statement Early With Physical and Determined Play?
The Raptors scored 30 more points than the Warriors in this series. However, they aren’t usually making up much ground in the first quarter. In fact, both teams have scored exactly 133 points in the first quarters of this series combined.
Toronto has been very resilient later in the games, however, often answering big runs by Golden State with significant runs themselves. The Raptors have just waited to really put their foot on the gas until after the first quarter.
Game 5 has the potential to be a spirit-breaker for the Raptors. To have a six-point lead with two and a half minutes left and then lose after missing a shot at the buzzer on your home floor is absolutely soul-crushing. How will they respond?
With this game being the final game ever played by the Warriors at Oracle Arena, we know the Golden State fans will be extremely amped to support their team. If the Warriors get out to a lead in the first quarter, they will be less likely to lose it in Game 6. Toronto needs to forget about what happened at the end of Game 5 and just play its own game.
Will the Warriors Be Smart With Their Usage of DeMarcus Cousins?
Cousins, at his best, is one of the top big men in the NBA. He is a versatile offensive weapon with amazing strength inside. He can also pass the ball well and occasionally shoot from the outside.
He is limited right now because of the quad injury he suffered in the first round of the playoffs. He also had a serious Achilles tear that happened over a year ago. That caused him to miss most of the regular season.
A hobbled Cousins is the ultimate boom-or-bust player. He can carry an offense with his fantastic offensive skill (and size) and at least be a big body on the inside when the other team isn’t attacking him on the perimeter. He went on a personal 7-0 scoring run in a span of 81 seconds in the second quarter of Game 5.
However, Toronto has made Cousins look bad at many points throughout this series. They are forcing turnovers on his attacking moves and passes with active hands and consistently involving him on the perimeter in pick-and-roll defense, where he is very slow.
Especially with Kevon Looney’s status still up in the air, Golden State will need a significant contribution from Cousins in this game. Will the team optimize his usage in the correct Warriors units and against the right lineups from the Raptors so he is not a liability?
Our Betting Preview’s Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors Game 6 Picks & Predictions
To be honest, this series has been extremely unpredictable thus far. The road team has won four of the five games and momentum has shifted significantly throughout almost every single contest.
For Game 6, my best advice is to treat this game as a complete coin flip. With Kevin Durant out and Kevon Looney possibly out or limited, the Raptors have the better, deeper team at this point. However, the Warriors are at home and may have gotten an emotional boost from their late comeback win in Game 5. As a result the Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors Game 6 predictions for this preview are:
Golden State is favored by 2.5 points with our list of highly-rated American oddsmakers to force a Game 7. I think you would be wise to bet on the Raptors +2.5pts @ -109 with Bookmaker or BetOnline.
The games in this series have trended toward being more low-scoring. The longer this series drags on, the slower the pace of play will be. This preview’s best advice, and the second of our picks, is to take under 212 total points for this Game 6 @ -110 with Bovada. The other firms offer a lower total.
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.