Can the Toronto Raptors do it? Nick Nurse’s side defied the odds to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals and another magical series could be on the cards. If Kawhi Leonard carries his recent form into the NBA showpiece, the Raptors will be a tough nut to crack. He is playing at an MVP level right now…
But it isn’t just about Leonard. Toronto looked dead and buried when they went 2-0 down in that series against the Bucks but the Raptors showed great resilience to bounce back to win four games on the spin. Suddenly, the 5/2 with Ladbrokes for Toronto to secure a first NBA title this year doesn’t look so bad.
However, Golden State are deserving favourites to go on and win the NBA Championship for the fourth time in the last five years. With Steph Curry scoring at a stupidly high level, you’d be hard pressed to back against the Warriors. Curry has topped the 36-point mark in each of his last three games and Toronto may struggle to keep up with his power scoring.
The Warriors scored 110 points or higher in all four games against the Portland Trail Blazers and that might be enough to get past the Raptors. Golden State’s price of 2/7 with William Hill is a little short but they have the experience, the talent and the strength in depth to go all the way. Back against the defending champions at your peril.
Date: May 31, 2019
Toronto Raptors: A Real Underdog Story
You won’t find too many Toronto fans hating on the Kawhi Leonard trade now. The Raptors put all of their eggs in one basket but that decision has already paid off – Toronto have made it to their first ever NBA Championship Finals series.
With the opening two matches of the series taking place at Scotiabank Arena, it is vital for the Raptors to at least head into Game 3 with the series all square. Losing both games will open the door for Golden State to run away with the series and it is hard to see another memorable Toronto comeback starting at Oracle Arena.
Leonard has an excellent record against the Warriors though – he has been on the winning side in 15 of his 24 games against Golden State. If the former San Antonio Spurs man is at his brilliant best, anything is possible. Toronto will need someone to stand up alongside Leonard though; beating the Warriors alone may be a stretch too far.
Signs Point Towards More Golden State Glory?
Warriors fans will be wary of falling two games behind in the series – Toronto have been simply sublime at Scotiabank Arena this year. With Kevin Durant out, Golden State seem to have found a new lease of life and their defence has been second to none. The Raptors are yet to come up against a team as defensively stable as the Warriors.
Barring a minor miracle, Curry is a shoo-in for his first NBA Finals MVP award. However, he will be focused primarily on helping Golden State to enhance their dynasty status with yet another NBA title. Winning the Championship this year would arguably be their greatest achievement yet given the increased competition across the league.
The Warriors have been here and got the t-shirt before and avoiding complacency could be the main thing standing in their way of NBA glory. Heading to Oracle Arena for Game 3 with the series level should put Golden State in the driving seat but they will be wary of another Kawhi Leonard masterclass. This one is firmly in the balance ahead of Game 1.