Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals was played last night. Before the game started, I listened to a lot of Prince songs…”how many songs? a lot”. It’s funny because Prince was a huge NBA fan and if you’ve seen Chapelle Show you know he loved some pickup basketball. So I was in a really good mood for last night’s game. Toronto was in a good mood too. The crowd was buzzing from the opening tip.
The Raptors had a few guys come up big for them last night. None bigger than Pascal Siakam. Pascal did some of everything. He scored -32 points on 14/17 shooting- by getting to the rim and he played defense like a one man wrecking crew. I saw and heard a lot of people questioning if Siakam can get 32 again. I disagree with that notion because it wasn’t a ‘hard 32′. Pascal’s 32 came within the flow of the game. Be it in transition or moving to the right spots in the half court. The question should be “can Golden State stop him from getting to his spots?” Of the 17 shots Siakam took, only 5 were from a distance greater than 11 feet from the basket. Oh and he went 4/5 on those shots (2/3 from behind the arc).
Marc Gasol had a great game on both ends of the court too. Before fouling out, Gasol did an excellent job of stretching the floor on offense and was a hound on defense when it came time to disrupt Steph Curry’s rhythm. Fred Van Vleet was excellent off the bench and Kawhi Leonard was steady despite not having a great shooting night. Kyle Lowry did not put up great offensive numbers though he did have 9 assists. Lowry didn’t let that stop him from being a pest which resulted in him taking some timely charges. I hate those plays with a passion. Credit to Lowry for stepping up and playing a crucial “floor game”. He also tied Kawhi and Van Vleet with a +11 plus/minus. That was the highest plus/minus for last night’s game. By comparison, the Warriors’ best was a +4 by Alfonzo McKinnie. Steph, Klay and Draymond all ranged from -8 to -10.
Draymond had the quietest triple double in NBA Finals history. Mainly due to him leading the game with a dismal 6 turnovers and some poor shooting. He was also in foul trouble throughout the game. Klay will want to burn footage of last night’s game. Pascal hounded Klay’s attempts to dribble like my daughter attacking me for my phone. The role players were very meh. That was to be expected. They’d given some great efforts since Game 5 of the series against Houston. Steph had a solid night. Wasn’t the best shooting night but he made up for it by getting to the free throw line. He only had 3 turnovers but his decision making was lack luster by his standards. Look for him to make quicker decisions in Game 2. Be it attacking with the early pass or dribble as he looks to score. Also keep an eye on how he’s finishing in the paint.
Overall this was an excellent game. The pace, energy, and effort from both teams is what you’d want to see as a fan. Look for Golden State to turn up their defense and limit some of the costly turnovers. The size and length of the Raptors was on display early and often. They caused slew of problems. Toronto will need another solid defensive effort and better offensive performances from Kawhi and Kyle. As for Game 1, Pascal Siakam didn’t pass up his chance to show baby I’m a star.