How Golden State Warriors adapted to beat Toronto Raptors in Game 2 of NBA finals

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Andre Iguodala
Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala shoots against the Toronto Raptors during the second half of Game 2. (Source: AP)

By Marc Stein

The Golden State Warriors drastically changed their starting lineup for Sunday night’s Game 2 of the NBA Finals, missed 24 of their first 33 shots, sank into an early double-digit deficit and lost two more key contributors to injury.

The Warriors also managed to overcome it all to do what they seemingly always do — they won a road game in the playoffs for the 23rd successive series.

Flummoxed for a game and a half by the Toronto Raptors’ physical defence, Golden State swung back in a big way by smothering the Raptors to score the first 18 points of the second half and seize the momentum in a 109-104 victory that evened these finals at one game apiece.

The Warriors held the Raptors scoreless for nearly six minutes to start the third quarter, briefly silencing Toronto’s rabid following at Scotiabank Arena. The series resumes Wednesday night at Golden State’s Oracle Arena, where superstar forward Kevin Durant is expected to return in Wednesday’s Game 3 or Friday night’s Game 4.

After watching veteran Andre Iguodala seal the victory with a crucial 3-pointer from the left wing with 1.8 seconds remaining, Golden State’s Stephen Curry told ABC’s Doris Burke: “The whole fourth quarter they were playing some janky defence just trying to send bodies to me everywhere. Our whole roster just took advantage of it. Over the course of the game, that’s kind of disrespectful to leave Andre Iguodala open like that with the game on the line. He’s made big shots like that before and he got it done tonight. “

Warriors coach Steve Kerr boldly moved DeMarcus Cousins into the starting lineup despite the fact that the eight minutes Cousins logged in Game 1 represented the former All-Star’s first action since Game 2 of Golden State’s first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers on April 15. Golden State would go on to lose Kevon Looney (chest contusion) and Klay Thompson (left hamstring tightness) by night’s end, but not before Thompson scored a team-high 25 points.

Cousins, for his part, was an undeniable difference-maker in his 27-minute return to prominence with 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. And the rest of Golden State’s starting lineup delivered when it absolutely had to, enabling the Warriors to avoid their first 2-0 series deficit in this five-year run of title contention.

Curry scored 23 points despite missing his first six shots. Thompson scored 18 of his points in the first half to keep the Warriors in striking distance after they fell behind by 12. And Iguodala shook off the effects of a crushing Marc Gasol screen to sink two huge 3-pointers after going five games without one.

Iguodala’s late 3-pointer, after Toronto curiously did not foul, is bound to receive all the attention. But he also sank a 3 early in the 18-0 run to snap out of an 0-for-11 funk from long distance since hitting five triples in the Game 6 win at Houston to close out the second round.

Yet it was Draymond Green, most of all, who responded to the challenge he issued himself about outplaying Toronto’s Pascal Siakam. “That’s on me,” Green said after Siakam’s huge Game 1.

Back to the level he established against Portland in the Western Conference finals. Green posted 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Golden State, for good measure, manufactured 15 bonus points from little-used reserves Quinn Cook (three 3-pointers) and Andrew Bogut (6 points in the second half) to secure a vital win.

Siakam finished with just 12 points in Game 2, shooting 5 for 18 after scoring a decisive 32 points while going 14 for 17 shooting from the field in the series opener. Kyle Lowry fouled out with 3:52 to go in the fourth quarter after another subpar shooting performance (4 for 11 from the field).

Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors with 34 points and 14 rebounds, but Golden State’s dogged second-half response ultimately limited Toronto to 37.2% shooting as a team.

As long as Thompson’s injury is not serious — and with Durant nearing his return — it would appear that the two-time defending champions have decisively snatched control of the series away from the Raptors, who looked poised to break the game open on multiple occasions in the first half. Toronto was bidding to take a two games-to-none lead for the second time in 19 playoff series in the franchise’s 24-year history.

Kerr, though, went back to the dynasty’s roots to steal the win on the road.

“It was championship defense and that’s what it’s going to take,” Kerr said.



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