NBA Final Prelude: The Toronto Raptors edge Warriors in possible 2018 Finals preview

Anyone that watched the Toronto Raptors play the Golden State Warriors the other day saw what a great team the Toronto Raptors have become. In a win over the Warriors, the Raps confirmed again that they are the best team in the league. The Golden State Warriors became their latest victims when they lost 131-128 in the overtime match.

There’s no doubt that the Warriors weren’t at their very best. With Draymond Green and Stephen Curry on the shelf, both still out injured, they weren’t firing fully on all cylinders. But with Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant leading the way, they still had enough in the pipe to erase an 18 point margin and force overtime.

It has to be said that Durant is nearly unstoppable on the offensive end. With a barrage of three-pointers in the last minute of the last quarter he almost single-handedly willed the game into an extra period.

It ended a three-game winning streak for the Warriors and saw Raptors extend their seven game winning run. It could very well have been a taster for what could be to come in the 2018 NBA Finals. The win puts the raptors on 19-4, which is a minimum three games better any other team in the league.

The game also set a TSN viewership record for a regular season game. We’re sure the league is drooling over this.

2018 NBA Finals Preview

If the Raptors do get to the NBA finals and end up facing the Golden State Warriors, this latest win of their arch-rivals will have them walking into the game confidently. It’s not easy to go up against a team who has won the title for the last two consecutive years, but if any team can do it, this early version of the Kawhi Leonard-led Toronto Raptors, along with Kyle Lowry and battle-tested Serge Ibaka and Danny Green, looks primed for the battle.

They obviously will hav their work cut out for them. The Warriors took the Raptors to the brink without two of their best players. But with Curry expected to be playing again this weekend and Green right behind him, the Hampton Five will be back up to full strength, and it could make the difference.

Yes, June 2019 (when the final takes place) is still a long way away, and anything can happen in between now and then. But it has to be said that the Toronto Raptors showed great steel and determination not to give-up when Durant dragged their game into extra time.

It wasn’t merely the Warriors drawing level, but the way it happened. A remarkable basket on a turnaround fall-away from distance was like a gift from the gods and enough to have dispirited most. But not the Raptors.

While the team from the Bay Area had Durant, the men from Toronto had their own heroes in the shape of Leonard, who looked nearly as unstoppable. Leonard and Green drew on all of the experience and success they had gained with their former team, San Antonio Spurs. They brought that same “win at any cost” determination into the Raptors team, and it paid off.

Leonard was fantastic; posting 37 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists at the same time as getting 14 for 24 off the floor was pure magic. There’s no question that Leonard, Lowry, Green and Ibaka are ready, how far the Raptors go in the post-season will land on the shoulders of their less-playoff tested players like Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright and OG Anunoby.

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