In the first ever NBA Finals game played outside of the United States, Pascal Siakam’s career-high 32-point haul helped lift Toronto to a 118-109 victory over Golden State Warriors today.
In all four of the previous Game 1s in which they have competed, Golden State Warriors have always emerged victorious. However, those wins came at home, and this time Golden State didn’t have home-court — or home country — advantage.
Between them, Small Forward Kawhi Leonard and towering Center Marc Gasol added another 43 points to Toronto’s pot. Kawhii Leonard had a rather quiet game and they will hope that he gets back better in the second game.
For the warriors, despite Stephen Curry scoring 34 points and Klay Thompson netting an admirable 21, the so-often sharp-shooting pair were slow off-the-mark in finding their grove.
So often disappointed in the play-offs, Toronto got off to a jittery start when Kyle Lowry fired a pass well out of bounds during the Raptors’ first possession.
But quickly they settled their nerves and rose to the occasion, building a ten point lead as the klaxon sounded for halftime.
The Raptors led nearly the entire way with their largest advantage coming at 12-points, when Danny Green drained a three-pointer from the corner and whipped the crowd into a frenzy with seven-and-a-half minutes to play.
The Warriors, who are trying to become the first NBA team to win three consecutive titles since the Los Angeles Lakers did it in 2002, got to within eight points but the Raptors held firm and padded their lead in the closing minutes.
In the last four finals, the Warriors have faced only LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers but they seemed to struggle to figure out a new opponent.
Toronto shot 50.6 percent from the field and the Warriors never found an answer for Siakam, the finalist for Most Improved Player who had a nice start for an NBA Finals MVP resume.
The player nicknamed Spicy P was red hot, shooting 14 for 17 from the field — and he tipped in his own shot on the last of those misses with 54 seconds to play.
Game Two of the best-of-seven championship series in on Sunday in Toronto, which is hosting an NBA Finals game for the first time after the Raptors entered the league as an expansion team in 1995.
The Raptors currently are relying on their size advantage over the Golden Statet Warriors and with Iguadola and Kevin Durant both still out injured, it will be very important that Raptors win game 2 as KD will be back in the 3rd game which will even out the sides and free up the rest of Golden state meaning that Raptors will now have a lot more of work to do.
The game was not short of drama as Hip Hop rapper Drake was seen exchanging words at the touchline with Steph Curry and Draymmond Green. The rapper was warned by NBA commissioner Adam Silver about his behavior on the touchline.
Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Programs Manager at the Craft Silicon Foundation. He loves writing about sports, politics and news around the globe and Inspiring new young people!!