2. The real “strength in numbers”
The Warriors’ “Strength In Numbers” slogan was well known during their couple of NBA Finals appearances, but it was Toronto’s depth that outplayed the opposition on Thursday as five Raptors scored in double figures.
Three players that have struggled mightily on the offensive end in these playoffs have been Fred VanVleet, Gasol and Green. All three were among the top five scorers for their team in Game 1, with with Gasol, Green and VanVleet contributing 20, 11 and 15 points, respectively.
In the Eastern Conference Finals series, Gasol shot 10-for-20, 50 percent and Green was 3-for-24, 12.5 percent from deep. Thursday night, they shot combined from beyond the arc, 5-for-11, 45.5 percent.
Both were instrumental defensively as well — Gasol as the main help defender on the Warriors’ Splash Brothers, and Green with his defensive assignments on either of them. Based on effort alone, this is a tall task to ask from two players who struggled to get their offense flowing at times throughout the postseason.
However, they were able to shake off the rust, play sound defensive, combine for three steals and three blocks and make a few impactful 3s. VanVleet, the other player who was struggling as recently as four games ago, had another breakout game of sorts.
VanVleet came off the bench and continued his impressive play with 15 points off the bench. He played key minutes when Lowry sat due to foul trouble for most of the fourth quarter. His tenacity as an on-ball defender was sensational, locking down his assignment (Curry) while he created for himself as one of the team’s primary shot creators.
The Raptors need him to continually keep producing in this capacity, especially when Lowry struggled scoring the ball (seven points on 2-of-9 shooting). All in all, FVV was tied with Kawhi and Lowry for a game-high +11.