The Golden State Warriors, winners of 2 of the last 3 NBA titles, are here. They won in Milwaukee last night, and have the best record in the league at 34–9. Steph Curry is back in their lineup after missing a couple of games to rest a sore ankle.
The Raptors have the 3rd-best record at 29–11. They were off last night. The day before, they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 133–99 despite playing without Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. Having passed that first measuring stick game with flying colours, tonight they face the best opposition in the league for another one.
Ibaka is back from a one-game suspension he earned by fighting James Johnson in the previous game. Lowry remains out with a tailbone bruise.
These teams faced off early in the season on the west coast, and the Warriors won 117–112. Lowry and DeRozan missed their clutch shots down the stretch, and Curry and Durant made theirs. Poeltl was effective inside with 12 points and 14 rebounds, and dominating the paint will be key for the Raptors again tonight.
Check out the last time the Warriors were here:
Live From The ACC: Kevin Durant’s New Team
It’s always special when Steph Curry plays at the Air Canada Centre. Back in Vince Carter’s heyday (1999–2001), I arrived early with my…
Tony Brothers is refereeing. That’s never good for the Raptors.
A close first few minutes, then the Warriors go at JV knowing he isn’t switching onto shooters, get a few open looks and go up 17–11 with 7:45 left in the first. Raps timeout.
JV stays in. The Raps pick things up a bit, but when Klay is hitting those 28-foot 3's it’s tough. He and DeMar both have 10 points. 30–26 Warriors, they take a timeout.
Miles/Van Vleet/Poeltl in for OG/Delon/JV. Poeltl stuffs McCaw at the rim. DeRozan baits Kevon Looney into an and-1 from the free throw line. Curry picks up his 2nd foul.
End of Q1: Warriors 43, Raps 35
Not a ton of defense being played. The Warriors are a true juggernaut. DeRozan has 19 points, Klay and Draymond have 10 each.
Casey puts out the all-bench lineup to start the quarter against Klay and Draymond. 10–2 Warriors run. 53–37. Raps timeout.
Ibaka is in. So is Lorenzo Brown. David West abused Poeltl, and now he’s doing the same to Siakam. Klay makes Ibaka fall down and drains a jumper over him as the Warriors bench re-enacts it and laughs uproariously. Things have gotten out of hand. 59–37 Warriors, Raps timeout.
DeRozan is back. Playing him the rest of the way may be the only chance at making this respectable. We got JV/Ibaka/Siakam up front with Brown rounding things out. That’s a new lineup. They get a steal from Siakam and DeRozan gets a layup in transition. OG comes in for Siakam after he picks up his 3rd foul.
KD back-rims a monster dunk and it bounces to halfcourt. Everyone has a good laugh. Not a minute later, he finishes a more simple fast break dunk and grins. This team is too good. This has turned into a glorified scrimmage. 75–52 Warriors, Raps timeout.
That’s 81–54 at halftime. Good grief. No one is beating this team in a 7-game series. DeRozan has 25 points, and it doesn’t matter.
End of Q3: Warriors 108, Raps 89
DeRozan and JV played the whole quarter and the Raps actually battled back pretty admirably. JV had a big dunk to cut it to 10 and ignite the crowd, but KD calmly dropped a couple of threes afterwards to keep the lead in double digits. DeMar is up to 36 points. Breathing on Steph Curry is a foul right now.
We are really starting the 4th with the all-bench unit against Draymond and Klay again. It works out a lot better, as the Raps go on a 12–5 run. 113–101, Warriors timeout after a transition dunk by Poeltl off a nifty bounce pass from Van Vleet.
The Raps cut it to 8, KD misses a 3, CJ immediately comes down and nails a 3. 113–108, 6:32 to play. Warriors timeout. Holy hell, what is happening?
Steve Kerr got a tech. The intensity is picking up. The Raps pull within 2. The Warriors respond. Van Vleet hits a 3 to pull within 1. Curry answers back with a 3. 119–115, 3:11 to play.
DeMar gets hacked going to the rim a few times, no calls. Curry gets blocked by Poeltl, FLOPS, gets the call. He misses both free throws. Ball don’t lie! 123–122 Warriors, Raps ball, 45 seconds to play.
DeMar misses a midranger, KD makes one. 125–122, 21 seconds.
CJ missed a tough 3 out of a pretty stagnant and unimpressive play. There was a jumpball and some scrambling, the Warriors came away with the ball and that was it.
Final: Warriors 127, Raps 125
Van Vleet hit a meaningless 3 at the buzzer. The Raps lost this game, but put up a great fight in the second half. The young guys that got obliterated in the second quarter (Poeltl, Van Vleet, Siakam) played key roles in the comeback. This game can only help their growth. Considering where things were at halftime, I’ll take the moral victory. DeRozan finished with 42 points on 17-for-31 shooting. He missed a couple of big ones, but also got no respect from the refs on his drives in the 4th quarter. A couple of extra points on those missed calls would have made a big difference.
The Raps head off to Philly for an afternoon game on Monday for Martin Luther King day. Hopefully Philly native Kyle Lowry is back in the lineup for that one.