Despite injuries to key contributors Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney, the Golden State Warriors were able to steal back home-court advantage from the Toronto Raptors with a 109-104 victory in game two Sunday night in Toronto.
The Raptors jumped out to a 12-point lead in the second quarter, but they were not able to take advantage of the injuries to an already Kevin Durant-less Warriors team after allowing an 18-0 run to start the second half.
Thompson went down with a hamstring injury early in the fourth after awkwardly landing on a 3-point attempt, Stephen Curry appeared to be playing through some sort of sickness throughout the game, and Looney was sidelined with a shoulder injury after a hard fall in the first quarter. Despite being far from 100%, the Warriors managed to hold off the Raptors.
The Raptors should have taken a 2-0 lead in this series. A great comeback performance from Demarcus Cousins — 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists — meant a lot for the Warriors, but the poor play and coaching from the Raptors was inexcusable.
Kawhi Leonard was his normal self with 34 points and 14 rebounds, but no one else besides Fred VanVleet with 17 points off the bench showed up for Toronto.
Coming off a breakout 32-point performance in game one, Pascal Siakam took a step back with just 12 points on 5-18 shooting, while Marc Gasol managed just six points and six rebounds in 31 minutes of play.
The good news for the Raptors is the series is still young, and they have the play makers to take advantage of a Warriors team that could be missing two of its top three scorers in game three.
The bad news is they just opened the door back up in what should have been a 2-0 series, and they will not return home until game five.
Raptors Head Coach Nick Nurse needs to do better if they want to have a chance. The most confusing part of this loss is despite Kyle Lowry being in foul trouble the entire game and poor play from Gasol and Siakam, why not take advantage of fresh legs and turn to your bench for production?
It's unlikely Thompson will miss any time because of his injury, but if he’s slowed by it, the Raptors need to take it to him. The Raptors also need to rotate frontcourt players more often to take advantage of Looney and Cousins' injuries.
If the Raptors want to win this series, they are going to have to take advantage of having the deeper roster. Nurse opted to play just eight players in the loss, despite having former IU player OG Anunoby back from injury and former Warriors role player Patrick McCaw on the bench.
Nurse also played backup center Serge Ibaka just 16 minutes compared to Gasol’s 31, despite Ibaka out-scoring and out-rebounding him with seven points and 10 boards.
The Raptors are fortunate to have played so well in game one. Going into game three in Oracle Arena, the Raptors need to take advantage of a injury-riddled Warriors squad and pick up a win or this series is all but over. They can’t afford to be down in the series if and when Kevin Durant returns from injury.
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