Toronto Raptors: 3 adjustments for Game 3 of 2019 NBA Finals

Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images /
2 of 4
(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

3. If Klay plays, run him ragged on defense

The hamstring injury suffered by Klay Thompson adds to a growing list of ailments for the Golden State Warriors this postseason. He pulled it early in the fourth quarter and then could barely walk off the court under his own power shortly after as he tried playing through it.

He’s listed as questionable, but said “it would be hard to see me not playing” Game 3, something that should not come as a surprise given his pain tolerance to at less than 100 percent, and that he has never missed a postseason game.

If he’s in the rotation for the Warriors in Game 3, Toronto must attack him defensively. That is rarely a strategy to deploy against Golden State, but hamstrings are lingering issues and if he is moving gimpy at all, Nick Nurse should target him while on the floor.

There’s not really a place to hide both him and Stephen Curry on defense. Curry has been stuck in the corner on Danny Green while Klay takes his turn on Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry or whoever he falls back on in transition. Kawhi isn’t fully healthy himself, but expect constant isolation if he finds Klay on him. Against Lowry, he’ll be hit with screen after screen on the ball and fighting through picks all game can get tiring, especially with a bum hamstring.

Throwing him on Green would be ideal, but that leaves Curry dealing with the continuous end of ball screens that would come with guarding Lowry. Switch the screens, and he’s matched up with Marc Gasol or Pascal Siakam in the post. Even if Klay is on Green for brief stretches, Green is hitting his 3-pointers at a solid clip so far that Nurse can run him off screens, which equates to more running for a hobbled Klay.

Playoff basketball is about exploiting matchups, and while Klay at 70-75 percent is still a solid defender, Toronto has to test that hamstring every time he’s on the court. It also helps the Raptors have the personnel to see how healthy Thompson really is if he’s playing Game 3. If he doesn’t play, then Toronto has multiple matchup advantages with Quinn Cook and Alfonzo McKinnie taking his minutes.