2019 NBA Finals: Raptors push Warriors to the brink

2019 NBA Finals: Game 4 (Raptors lead, 3-1)

Toronto Raptors (105) – Golden State Warriors (92)

With Klay Thompson returning for Game 4, Golden State fans expected a totally different Warriors team to show up. After being ran out of their own building in Game 3, the fans were hyped up for the home team to even up the series against the Raptors.

For 26 minutes, that seemed like the case. The Warriors defense looked solid in the first half. They were able to limit the hot-shooting Raptors to just a 34% clip in in the first two periods. There was more effort to defend the other Raptors as it was only Kawhi Leonard that was hitting from the field.

Golden State led 46-42 and were looking primed for one of their patented third quarter barrages.

Oh, there was a barrage all right. But it didn’t come from the Warriors.

Kawhi Leonard erupted for 17 points in the third quarter, turning the deficit into a commanding lead. He had another incredible Playoff performance to add to the growing collection of amazing games he’s had in this post season. Leonard finished with 36 points, 12 rebounds and four steals.

The Klaw opened the third period by walking into a fast break three-pointer. He followed it up with a steal and another three-pointer right in Draymond Green’s face. That 6-0 run to start the second half gave the Raptors the lead. But that was only the start of his crazy run. He shredded the Warriors defense in the last three minutes of the third period, pulling up for mid range jumpers to push the Raptors ahead by double digits.

In the final period, the Warriors adjusted by double-teaming Leonard. Instead of forcing the issue, he deferred to his teammates and they were able to hold of the Warriors until the end.

Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka did most of the damage in the fourth period. Ibaka got rolling in the third as his seven points combined with Leonard beat out the Warriors 21 in the quarter.

He continued to do damage in the final period. He played huge as a finisher in the two-man game. Ibaka repeatedly rolled to the hoop for baskets inside. He finished with 20 points off the bench to help out Leonard on offense.

The playmaking duties in the fourth period fell on Kyle Lowry. The veteran point guard slice up the Warriors defense, killing them on pick-and-rolls with Ibaka, pick-and-pops with Siakam and kick out passes to Danny Green.

Lowry only had 10 points and seven assists. Most of his assists came in the final period when the Warriors were trapping Leonard.

Credit also has to be given to coach Nick Nurse. He pushed all the right buttons in the game today. He didn’t hesitate to call Leonard’s number when nothing was going for his team and put in the correct combination of big men in the fourth period to give Lowry weapons on offense.

The Warriors got 28 from Thompson and 27 from Curry. But looking beyond those numbers, the Splash Brothers struggled. Thompson had nearly nothing to offer in the second half while Curry was possibly even worse. After scoring 47 in Game 3, Curry looked hesitant in Game 4, passing up open shots. On defense, all of his gambles were wrong and those usually led to wide open shots.

The Warriors are used to all the 3-1 jokes. But they’re usually the ones leading the series when those jokes are dropped. This time around, they were on the receiving end of a beating to put them down by two games and on the brink of elimination.

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