4. Limit Toronto’s 3-point shooting
The Raptors were one of the best 3-point shooting teams during the regular season, ranking second in makes per game and first in percentage. While that consistency ebbed and flowed through the first two rounds of the playoffs, it was a big factor in their series win over Milwaukee.
Toronto drained 14.3 looks a night from downtown against the Bucks, with a number of less-heralded role players having stepped up their level of play. After struggling through the first half of the series, Fred VanVleet found his stroke over the final three games. The sixth man shot a staggering 82.4 percent on his looks from beyond the arc, with 5.7 makes leading to 16.0 points per game.
Kyle Lowry was scorching with a series-high 20 made looks on 46.5 percent shooting. Seven-foot lumberjack Marc Gasol shot 41.4 percent and Norman Powell clocked in at 41.9 percent. Needless to say, this is a unit doing some of its best work at the most important time of this memorable season.
For its seemingly effortless ability to flip the proverbial switch, Golden State still hasn’t fully clicked at the defensive end of the floor, especially in regards to the 3-point line. Among all 16 playoff participants, the Dubs rank 10th in opponent 3-point percentage and are giving up the second-most makes.
In previous Finals, the Warriors were at ease in knowing they possessed home-court and therefore weren’t required to win on the road. Unlike those previous years, the 2019 NBA Finals will begin up North, which will force them to steal at least one game at Scotiabank Arena.
As the Dubs can attest, the power of the 3-pointer is strong in front of a home fanbase. Just a single make can invigorate a crowd and spur the home team into a glorious run that cracks a game wide open.
Golden State can hope for the Raptors to cool off from beyond the arc. The better option would be to exert more energy in contesting those shots and forcing Toronto’s snipers inside the perimeter. This, in turn, would limit its offense and keep the Warriors from having to once again mount a comeback in front of an arena that will do everything in its power to keep that from happening.