We have that and more in Friday’s NBA newsletter.
The following statements are now true. The Toronto Raptors have never lost an NBA Finals game. A man named Pascal has scored 32 in an NBA Finals game. Drake is 1-for-1 in creating memes courtside in the NBA Finals in Toronto.
The Raptors beat up and beat the Warriors on Thursday to take a 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals, much to the pleasure and relief of those of us who picked Toronto to win the series. A Golden State sweep has been avoided, and the Raptors looked really good! Pascal Siakam looked especially good: he scored 32 points on 14-17 shooting (with 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks for good measure). Marc Gasol (20 points in 13 shooting possessions) and Fred VanVleet (5-8 from the floor, 15 points) were really good on offense, too.
Notably, Kawhi Leonard struggled on offense as the Andre Iguodala and Kevon Looney did credible jobs one-on-one and the Warriors shaded lots of help toward him. But Leonard managed to draw a bunch of fouls to stay efficient. Kyle Lowry did shoot much or well (just 7 points), but he played stellar defense and moved the ball extremely well. This was a good Kyle Lowry game.
The Toronto defense is where the power lies: they made life extremely tough for the Warriors by forcing them inside the arc. The only thing that kept Golden State in it was Steph Curry’s attacking and foul-drawing. This was an incredible example of why Kevin Durant — who can create a shot from anywhere on the floor at any time — is so valuable. He could have turned the tide here. But he’s still not available.
Drake put an exclamation mark on the whole thing by barking some trash talk at Draymond Green as the Warriors left the floor. He wore a Dell Curry Raptors jersey to the game. Spicy! We also have a new meme to replace the Hotline Bling meme.
had some extremely sober and smart comments about the concept of fairness in basketball and life before the series began. On Thursday, he made some incredible passes and basically didn’t shoot. He was a touch slow in getting back on defense, but the rest of the Warriors had that in common with him.
As a longtime Cousins observer, watching him in this state — physically limited and non-essential — is a little sad but also hopeful that this too will fuel him to be back to his All-NBA self next season, somewhere in the NBA.
(Lakers. He’s going to the Lakers.)
Game 2 is on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. No GMIB on Saturday, but we’ll have one on Sunday morning.
Paul Flannery assures you that yes, you can believe in these Raptors.
Women are still just making inroads in the NBA … except in social media, where they run most of the best accounts.
Meet the iconic voice of the Raptors, Herbie Kuhn.
All hail the return of Savage Steph Curry.
How Masai Ujiri built a juggernaut without any lottery picks.
Kudos to Kevin O’Connor on the good he’s doing in his Dunk On Cancer effort. Not too late to make a Game 1 pledge.
Why Metta World Peace isn’t a comeback story.
Richard Jefferson on why he’ll be glad when the summer player movement period ends.
And finally: can the Finals finally break the super-real Paul Pierce curse?
Be excellent to each other.