As basketball fans cringe at the thought of the Golden State Warriors winning their fourth title in the last five years, I have been giving these Finals some thought and what I have concluded is that this will be the hardest fought trophy that the Warriors will claim in this decade. If we take away the Cleveland Cavaliers’ miracle of 2016(which was really thanks to the NBA for setting it up the way they did), the Warriors have not had difficulty getting through the Cavaliers thanks to the contributions of a future Hall of Famer by the name of Kevin Durant. This is a different battle for the Warriors(FINALLY!) as they will take on the most talented team that they have ever faced in the Toronto Raptors. Here is my breakdown on why the Warriors will overcome their toughest test in a dramatic six games.
The Raptors swept the Warriors this year, but that does not come without the caveat of the absence of Steph Curry. Durant put up 51 points in a dramatic, overtime loss where Toronto shot 52 percent. Throughout this year’s playoffs, Golden State has proven to be more dynamic and efficient without Durant than without Curry. Curry is the heart and soul of Golden State and there would be no titles for the franchise without the greatness of Steph Curry. If he plays the way he did against Portland, then there is no doubt that the fourth title in five years is coming to the Bay Area. However, there is a silent assassin on the Raptors that could be the key to the end of the Warriors’ dynasty. Kawhi Leonard is the greatest two-way player of the 2010s and he can cap off an MVP-caliber season and legendary playoff run by doing the unthinkable and stunning the Warriors. Leonard is averaging a ludicrous 31.2 points per game this postseason and shooting at a 50 percent pace. I am predicting that Kawhi will score somewhere between 35-40 points in each game this series, but for Toronto to win, it will come down to Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, and Marc Gasol to be mistake-free and to play above their paygrade if the Raptors want a shot at this title. Bench play could be a factor as Fred VanVleet has arrived to serve as a late-game star for Toronto, but do not put the past the Warriors’ bench of Jerebko, Bell, McKinnie, and Cook to neutralize VanVleet’s shooting. The return of DeMarcus Cousins could serve as a deterrent for the Warriors’ quick transitions and their ability to move the ball in half-court as Cousins is one of the slowest players in the league. If Cousins has adversity, can he overcome it or will it lead to potential technicals that get him ejected and affect Golden State’s spirits?
This series will be tied at two games apiece headed back to Toronto for game five and I predict that we will all be shown the hope that the Raptors have taken full command of this series with a game 5 win, but whether it be an absolute hot streak for Golden State or a “shot heard ’round the world” like the Ray Allen three-pointer in the 2013 Finals or the worst-case scenario, terrible officiating, Toronto will lose game five so dramatically to a point where they will be too distraught to come out and try to win game six and the NBA world will roll their eyes once again. The Raptors have the best shot at ending the historic dynasty that Golden State has created. Toronto can launch the post-Warriors’ dynasty in the NBA to send us into what will be a free agency frenzy and the roaring ’20s of the 21st century. Will they do it? No, but one can only hope.
Warriors in six games.