TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors are more than a one-man gang, and they showed that again Thursday night in defeating the Golden State Warriors 118-109 in the opening game of the NBA Finals.
Kawhi Leonard has been brilliant for the Raptors during the playoffs, but when the Warriors limited him to 23 points and eight rebounds– below his postseason averages — Pascal Siakam jumped up with a career-playoff-best 32 points Thursday.
Siakam added eight rebounds and five assists.
“I mean, Kawhi didn’t have his best game to his standards, but other guys stepped up (for Toronto),” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. “Siakam obviously had a game of his playoff life. Give him credit, running the floor. So we’ll have to get back on defense next game and really limit their transition points, make them beat us in the half-court. …
“Yeah, we did a good job of limiting Kawhi, but it’s not Kawhi Leonard, it’s the Raptors.”
Marc Gasol also took advantage of the Warriors’ attention to Leonard, scoring 20 points and adding seven rebounds. He praised Siakam.
“He does a great job of attacking those gaps, using his body, attacking the angles that the defense is giving you,” Gasol said. “He can go both ways. I just like when he plays that aggressive.”
Raptors coach Nick Nurse added, “Pascal had a big offensive night. I thought he played with really good composure, right. He got to his spots and got on balance and was patient, and when he needed to go quick … he did as well. He had a couple of really tough ones go in for him as well.”
Fred VanVleet added 15 points for the Raptors, and Danny Green contributed 11 points.
Stephen Curry led the two-time defending champion Warriors with 34 points. Thompson added 21 points, and Draymond Green had 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Raptors outscored the Warriors 24-17 on the fastbreak. The Warriors also committed 17 turnovers to the Raptors’ 10.
“Well, Siakam was brilliant, he was hitting shots from everywhere,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Those guys made their plays, made their shots. The biggest thing for me was our transition defense was just awful, and that’s the game.
“That’s the No. 1 priority when you play Toronto, you have to take care of their transition, and we gave up 24 fastbreak points, we turned it over 17 times. So that’s the game, really.”
Toronto took a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter. Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, who had seven points, six rebounds and nine assists, was called for his fifth personal foul with 8:11 remaining and Toronto leading by nine. Danny Green’s 3-pointer pushed the lead up to 12 with 7:32 to go.
Curry’s layup and free throw cut the margin to nine with 2:35 left, but the Raptors were in command.
“We were very aggressive on defense, and tried and make it tough for the players to find open shots,” Siakam said. “But we know that it’s Game 1 and they’re going to come out and make adjustments, and we got to be ready for that.”
Toronto led 25-21 after one quarter.
The Warriors took a 41-40 lead on Thompson’s 3-pointer with 5:37 remaining in the second quarter.
Gasol’s layup had the Raptors back in the lead by one, and Siakam’s 3-pointer put them ahead by four.
Danny Green’s 3-pointer gave Toronto 59-49 halftime lead.
Gasol led the first-half scoring with 14 points as the Raptors shot 50 percent from the field. Curry had 13 points for the Warriors, who shot 36.6 percent.
For the game, Toronto outshot Golden State from the floor 50.6 percent to 43.6 percent.
The Raptors led by 12 early in the third quarter, but the Warriors chipped back within six on Thompson’s 3-pointer. Siakam’s layup after Leonard’s steal on Curry’s turnover restored the 10-point lead with 6:55 remaining in the third.
After Golden State pulled within four, former Warrior Patrick McCaw hit a 3-pointer to close the third-quarter scoring and give Toronto an 88-81 lead.
Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins, who hadn’t played since April 15 due to a torn left quadriceps, returned to action. He recorded three points, two assists and two steals in eight minutes.
–By Larry Millson, Field Level Media