OAKLAND- The Toronto Raptors took a pivotal 2-1 series lead in these 2019 NBA Finals following a tough 123-109 Game 3 win on Wednesday night (Thursday morning Philippine time) before a sea of 19,596 mostly disappointed fans at the Oracle Arena.
Kawhi Leonard hit 9-of-17 from the field to finish with 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists. But he was far from a one-man army as the NBA’s only team in Canada moved two games closer to winning all the marbles with Games 5 and 7 scheduled at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
All five of Toronto’s starters scored in double-figures, staying steady while thwarting repeated comebacks from a gallant Warriors team that trailed by as many as 16 with only 29.4 seconds left in the third quarter.
Kyle Lowry drilled five 3s to finish with 23 points and nine assists. Pascal Siakam and Danny Greem each had 18 with Green punctuating his performance with six made triples. Veteran big Marc Gasol had a solid 17 points, seven rebounds and four dimes.
Toronto’s balanced offense and 17 converted threes, were the obvious difference in Toronto’s regaining of homecourt advantage in these Finals.
“Once I’m driving in the paint, kicking out to guys that are making shots, the defense doesn’t want to collapse as easy, and we just got to keep playing them in a flow, really. I feel like we just don’t need to worry about me scoring the basketball, we all can score with the offense that we have, just got to keep moving,” Leonard said of the template they used to beat the powerhouse Warriors.
Steph Curry led Golden State with a playoffs career-high of 47 but besides Draymond Green’s 17 points and Iguodala’s 11, Curry got little help from the rest of the Warriors, who shot just 39.6 from the field (36 of 91) and had only 20 assists against Toronto’s 30.
Minus three of their regular rotation players — Kevin Durant (calf strain), Klay Thompson (sore hamstring) and Kevon Looney (rib injury), the Warriors simply didn’t have the manpower to hold off the relentless Raptors.
“They played well the whole game. Every time we made a run or got the crowd into it,they either made a tough three or there was a foul called and they slowed the tempo down or something went their way. So it’s just how it goes sometimes. You have to tip your cap to all the guys that made pivotal plays in the right times. I think defensively in the first quarter, if we can get off to a better start to hopefully take a little bit of rhythm away. Giving up 36 in the first quarter is tough,” Curry said at the post-game press conference.
By stealing Game 3, the Raptors put themselves in a great position to win the franchise’s first ever NBA title since joining the league as an expansion team in 1995. Game 5 and 7, if necessary, are penciled at Scotiabank Arena where the Raptors were 32-9 during the regular season.
Game 4 returns to the Oracle Arena on Friday night (Saturday morning RP time) and with a couple more days to rest their injured bodies, ESPN has reported that both Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant might be back in action to know this series at 2-2.