1. The Raptors have what it takes to win this series
Heading into Game 1, a Raptors loss would’ve told us everything we needed to know about their chances. We’ve seen this unfold too many times, and we’ve seen the Dubs break the hearts of plucky underdogs the same number of times. Instead, Toronto took care of business, handing this Golden State dynasty its first ever loss in Game 1 of the Finals.
All the Warriors have to do is win one game in Scotiabank Arena for that familiar Raptors panic to set back in, but make no mistake about it: This team isn’t going to just hand anything over to the defending champs the way their predecessors might have.
Gasol is going to continue to spread the floor and feast on whatever traditional center Kerr trots out there. Siakam had one of the best games of his life in his first Finals appearance. Leonard shot an underwhelming 5-for-14 from the field, but still got to 23 points thanks to his 12 trips to the foul line and, more importantly, his team still won.
Danny Green, who shot a miserable 4-for-23 from long range in the conference finals and ultimately saw his minutes dwindle over the last three games of the series, went 2-for-4 from downtown in the first half Thursday night as the Raptors pulled away. He ultimately finished his night 3-for-7 from deep.
Fred VanVleet, who started his playoffs 8-for-38 from deep, continued his recent hot surge from the last three games of the conference finals — during which time he was a blistering 14-for-17 from deep — and once again drove daggers into his opponent off the bench. FVV added 15 points, and though he only made one of his four long range attempts, he still finished 5-for-8 from the floor overall and was a +11.
In short, the Raptors have a big advantage in the frontcourt; they have the defense to challenge Golden State’s almighty offense; we don’t know when Kevin Durant will return; Toronto’s Game 1 demons have officially been exorcised on the grandest stage; the rims in Scotiabank Arena love the home team; the Raptors have home-court advantage; and Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry didn’t really do much in the series opener.
Everything looks good for We The North right now. It’ll be on the defending champs to flip that script by stealing a road win in Game 2.