Toronto Raptors will win NBA Finals if Warriors don’t get Durant back

The Toronto Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night, 118-109. Now the Warriors chances for a three-peat aren’t good unless Kevin Durant comes back.

Durant has missed the last seven games due to a right calf strain. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr expects that Durant will miss Game 2 on Sunday, according to the Toronto Press.

“Kevin’s not going to play Sunday,” Kerr said. “I guess we’ve been sort of holding out hope, but he’s not practising today, he’s not [going to] practise tomorrow. He’s still progressing. … It’s near impossible for him to play on Sunday.”

While Durant won’t play in Game 2, he is expected to return about halfway through the series, league sources told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Some member of the Warriors organization are optimistic that Durant could return for Game 3, however a Game 4 return is the most logical and more probable option.

The Warriors really need to have Durant back. Yes they can win without him, entering the NBA Finals the Warriors were 31-1 when Steph Curry played and Duran didn’t play.  However the Warriors don’t have a chance at winning unless Durant comes back.

The Raptors defense showed why the Warriors won’t be able to win without Durant in the Finals. THe Raptors are long, athletic and have a lot of versatility and have a more dangerous group of role players than the Warriors do and were able to disrupt the Warriors offensive flow.

The Raptors held the Warriors to 43.6 percent shooting in Game 1 and they forced 17 turnovers. Three Raports players scored 20 points or more, as Pascal Siakam had 32 points, Kawhi Leonard had 23 points, and Marc Gasol had 20 points. Fred VanVleet also had 15 points for the Raptors.

Meanwhile for the Warriors, Curry had 34 points and Klay Thompson had 21 points. Besides those two the Warriors couldn’t find another player who could be a scoring option. The Warriors will have their offense depth tested as long as Durant remains out. Duran has averaged 34.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.9 assists this postseason and noone else on the Warriors can do what Durant can do when Duran isn’t playing.

The Warriors need to have Durant back. Otherwise they will watch the Toronto Raptors celebrate an NBA title.

 

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Can the Hawks Find Their Wings?

The NBA draft is right around the corner and the Atlanta Hawks just are due two top 10 picks this year barring a trade. The Hawks just about got the worst-case scenario for their lottery pick but on the good side, they acquired the Mavs pick from last year’s draft night trade blockbuster deal between Luka Doncic. and Trae Young. Nevertheless, they will be picking 8 and 10. The play of Trae Young greatly eases the pain of the lottery picks due to his tremendous passing ability so just about anyone chosen should fit right in. This draft is looked upon as weaker one but only time will truly tell. With that being said the safest direction in this draft seems to just be best player available. Through Fanspeak.com mock draft simulator, I have the Hawks double dipping at the wing position with Cam Reddish and Jarrett Culver. (You can see full draft below)

Through many mocks over the internet it seems Culver is unlikely to drop that far but if he does it could be a steal for the Hawks. Jarrett is a deceiving 6’5 with 6’9.5″ wingspan. He looks much taller and longer than his measurements suggest, regardless Culvers size makes him vary imposing on defense and one of the key reasons Texas Tech made it to the NCAA championship where unfortunately he ran into a shooting slump. Trae Young would alleviate that immediately taking pressure of Culver and he wouldn’t have to rely so much on getting his own shot. Also, both were born in Lubbock Texas and the potential synergy is already radiating here in Atlanta.

On to Mr.Reddish. Cam Reddish is coming off what many people call a disappointing college campaign but when your teammates are Zion Williamson and RJ Barret you almost have no choice but to take a backseat. His role at Duke was just about regulated to being a spot up shooter when he’s much more. I believe it came down to a confidence issue with Cam. A thriving system in Atlanta could be the cure for Cam. In an offense that thrives on spacing and a greater role should be with the doctor ordered. If youre afraid of there not being enough touches to go around I can say I would be afraid to… if Atlanta didn’t have a pass first point guard. Many thought Traes shooting would be what set him apart from his draftmates although it still is, its his passing that will continue to be the foundation of the Hawks success. Taurean Prince is most likely not long for the Haws roster but Kevin Huerter could still be a nice fallback just incase either come up short which at the very least give Atlanta a strong rotation.

 

 

Raptors are in NBA Finals for the First Time: What This Means for Toronto, Canada, and the NBA.

The Toronto Raptors are 24 years old and there have been several times where reaching the NBA Finals would stay as a dream. Star players, such as Damon Stoudamire, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, and Chris Bosh, wanted out. Head coaches were fired every few years. They drafted Andrea Bargnani 1st overall in the 2007 NBA Draft, yes that happened. Throw in some rebuilds and unable to breakthrough LeBron James in the previous three playoffs, a Raptors fan could only be pessimistic that the team they support could reach NBA’s biggest stage.

 

In the past year, the Raptors fired head coach, and coach of the year Dwane Casey. They traded arguably their best player in franchise history, DeMar DeRozan, for superstar Kawhi Leonard who is a free agent this summer. Was a move that put the Raptors all-in for the 2018-19 campaign, proved furthered at the trade deadline by acquiring veteran Marc Gasol for Jonas Valanciunas, CJ Miles, and Delon Wright. Raptors make the playoffs once again and, although they had a couple hiccups, they “bounced” back getting through the Eastern Conference. And they did not have to worry about LeBron James who signed with the L.A. Lakers.

When the Raptors punched their ticket to the NBA Finals for first time in franchise history, it is equivalent to when the Toronto Blue Jays made their first World Series in 1992. Not only was it a historic moment for Toronto and Canada, but for their league. The World Series was played outside the U.S for the first time ever in 1992. 27 years later, the NBA Finals will be played internationally for the first time ever! A monumental moment for the NBA to grow their league globally as an international team is in the Finals for the very first time.

Another first is when the 2019 NBA Finals begin the Raptors will be seen by a global audience where millions of people across the globe will get a first impression of a Canadian NBA team. Depending on how the Finals go, the Raptors can grow their fan base internationally.

But regardless of how the series plays out, the Raptors will inspire Canadians to watch and/or play basketball. Just like Vince Carter, who created a generation of Raptors fans and Canadians playing in the NBA, the 2018-19 Toronto Raptors will create the next generation. And it will benefit the organization, city of Toronto, Canada Basketball, and the NBA.

Kawhi or the Warriors? – The Spurs Fan Conundrum

If you’re a fan of the San Antonio Spurs, it’s been pretty rough for over the past year. First, you go through the retirement of Manu Ginobili as he becomes the final remaining member of the Big Three to end his time with the franchise. Before that, you had Tony Parker leaving for Charlotte in free agency. Then even before the regular season even started, Dejounte Murray tears his ACL in a pre-season game. Oh, and did we mention that this off-season was the same one that the Spurs had to trade away one of the best players in the game right now in what could be called one of the most confusing, mysterious, and infuriating situations that the Spurs and their fanbase had experienced up to this point. Just less then a year after “The Trade”, the Spurs find themselves as a first round exit in a close seven-game series after a wild up and down season of lack-luster defense and a shining rising star named Derrick White. Besides the ups and down, the Spurs fans see the light at the end of the tunnel, with young talent about the take the reins of the franchise’s future. But before Spurs fans can move on to the future, they’re forced to go through the nightmare that is this year’s Finals matchup of the Toronto Raptors (their first franchise appearance in the Finals) lead by former Spur, Kawhi Leonard, going up against the Golden State Warriors.

In a situation that could easily be called a breakup, Spurs fans are reminded of the heartbreak Kawhi Leonard brought them last off-season as he is appearing in his first Finals appearance, not in a black and silver uniform. A man who was going to be a star (already was) of the franchise, was seen a traitor as he turned his back on the franchise in requesting a trade in the off-season of 2018. In addition to the dread Spurs fans are already going through in these Finals, they also have to deal with the fact that the Golden State Warriors are making their fifth straight appearance in the Finals and looking to earn their third consecutive title. A feat that was last done by the 2000 to 2002 Los Angeles Lakers.

This is where the Spurs fan conundrum comes in to play. Do you cheer for the man who turned his back on the franchise or do you root for the superteam who is renownedly hated throughout the league? And when you ask Spurs fans around the realm this question, you get a wide array of responses as a result.

You do have fans like Chase Risman (@TexSR_Chase) who still have strong feelings following Leonard’s trade request. “Kawhi Leonard does not deserve to play for a championship a year after throwing the Spurs, city of San Antonio, and fans under the bus. I am rooting for the Golden State Warriors.” On the other side, you have guys like JP Mason (@TheReal_JPMason) who follows the overall opinion that he would rather not see the Warriors earn the three-peat “Raps. Kawhi is still a beast and I’d rather see him win another ring than see the Warriors three-peat.  Another opinion going around is that of @ChrisRamon7 who brings an interesting perspective in that Leonard “is still a product of the Spurs regardless of who he plays for.” Lisette (@joceyluvbby) also brings up a unique in her decision: “I am choosing the Raptors over the Warriors for the reason that another team deserves to win. It would also be nice to see Kawhi get a little revenge on the team who kind of took him out when he was in a Spurs jersey.” @Spurs_Legacy gave their opinion saying that they’re “not necessarily opposed to Kawhi or the Raps winning a title”, they would prefer it’s not this year due to the drama swirling around Leonard’s uncle, Dennis Roberson’s latest interview as well as Danny Green’s (former Spurs who was sent to Toronto in the Kawhi trade) “constant need to bring up SA”. Then you have people who don’t even want to bother with both teams such as Wren Tello (@TheMightyWren); “Finals? What Finals? Seriously couldn’t give a crap less about either team at this point.”

When it comes to Kawhi overall, Spurs fans do all agree that they don’t think highly of him following the situation. But when it comes to cheering between him and the Warriors, you will not have two opinions that are the same. The NBA Finals begin on Thursday, May 30th in Toronto.

 


EDITORIAL:

When it comes to my personal opinion on this subject of picking between Kawhi and the Warriors, I really had to think about it. While part of me still has a bad taste in my mouth from the whole Kawhi deal, the other side of me highly despises the Warriors. There are pros and cons to picking a side here and it’s based on personal opinions on the teams and the players. Yeah, Kawhi did the Spurs franchise and fanbase dirty in requesting the trade that knock the whole team out of whack, as well as having to force fans to watch their team trade away the guy who is arguably top five in the league right now. On the other hand, how the hell can you cheer for the Warriors? Do you, the fans, really wanna see Kevin Durant essentially sit on the bench to be given his third ring, as well as see DeMarcus Cousins be successful in his ring chasing adventure? Thinking about the snake himself earning a third ring was the turning point for me in who I decided to cheer for. I know many Spurs fans will oppose my thinking because everyone has their own opinion on this situation, but I also try to think in what’s good for the league overall.

The league could use the Raptors winning this championship over the Warriors winning it for a third straight time, and their fourth time in five years. Look at the Raptors franchise as a whole, outside of Kawhi. This franchise has some of the most dedicated fans in the league and these fans have gone through some rough patches throughout their existence. This is their first Finals appearance ever and they come in as underdogs against the injured, yet skilled Warriors team that has a vast amount of playoff experience. In addition to the Raptor fans, this Toronto team also has some league favorite guys in Marc Gasol and Kyle Lowry (lets also not forget the fact that Mr.Linsanity Jermey Lin is also on this Raptors team). Seeing those guys win a championship over watching Kevin Durant win his third was a major reason I swayed as well.

Overall in my decision, as much as it may sting to see Kawhi win a ring after turning his back on my franchise, I rather see him and other really good guys win then watch the Warriors waste away another season in the NBA.

For more NBA and San Antonio Spurs content, you can follow me on Twitter @TyJagerRadio. You can also find my Spurs based NBA Podcast , At The Line, on Twitter @AtTheLinePod or on AtTheLinePodcast.com