4 Signs Of Encouragement From The Game 2 Loss
Heartbreaking losses aren’t always a horrible thing. Frankly, heartbreaking is probably too strong a word to use for the Raptors game two loss. As a fan, you obviously want your team to win every game but losing one to the two-time defending champs is far from the end of the world. In fact, there’s a whole lot that encourages me from a game like that.
1. Warriors Dealing With the Injury Bug
Kevin Durant isn’t going to be back for game three (probably more), Klay Thompson’s status for game three is questionable, Andre Iguodala is battling some sort of leg injury, and Kevon Looney is out indefinitely. The biggest of those names are obviously KD and Klay but the other guys aren’t just scrubs at the end of the Warriors bench. Iguodala has been a huge part of the team’s success throughout this historic run – Including a Finals MVP win in 2015. Looney’s impact has been felt more recently as he has been used to eat a healthy number of minutes at centre. On top of the new injury bug, Demarcus Cousins is returning from an injury that had him on the sidelines for a whole six weeks. This isn’t to say the Raptors aren’t dealing with their own health issues, but, it’s a lot less severe than what Golden State is going through.
There’s one thing that will certainly translate from one game to the next. Defence. The Raptors have held the Warriors, one of the best offensive teams of all time, to under 110 points in both games of the series. In the regular season, the Warriors were held to under 110 for two or more straight games only twice. The 109 points would be below the league average for the regular season and more than seven points less than their playoff average. They’ve only been held to under 110 points in just two of their eight playoff series in the past two years. Yes, they don’t have the entirety of the powerhouse with KD out but they still have more than enough firepower to be an elite offensive team. Keeping this up will be the key to a series win.
3. VanVleet is Balling
Fred VanVleet has been on another level since the birth of his son during the Eastern Conference Final. Following May 21st (Game 4 of Bucks series) Fred VanVleet has been averaging 16 points per game (3rd on the Raptors in that time) on 58% shooting from the field and over 58% from three. That’s 12 more points per game and a 25% increase in FG% from the first 15 contests of the postseason. Not to mention, his defence against Curry has been a pleasant surprise. His speed and strength makeup for his lack of height and allows him to stay with Steph during his marathon-esque off-ball movements. If Freddy can stick to this career run, the Raptors are in a very good position for the rest of this series.
4. Role Players Will Be Better
I’m not going out on a limb here saying the Raptors role guys (plus Lowry) struggled in game two. Siakam shot an unsightly 5-18 putting up only 12 points after his 32 in game one. Gasol went 2-7 with six points while missing all his threes. Lowry was 4-11 with 13 points and only two assists and fouled out midway through the fourth quarter while managing to have the lowest +/- on the team. Danny Green, Ibaka, and Powell each went 3-7 with Green picking up eight points while Ibaka and Powell both had seven. Almost the opposite occurred in game one so we’ve kind of seen both sides of the spectrum for these Raptors (except Lowry but we know what he can do). Chances are we see more of a middle ground between the game one and two performances. That type of performance in game two likely leads the Raptors to 2-0 lead instead of being tied going back to Oracle.
Losing a winnable game is never ideal, especially against a team as dominant as the Warriors. However, the positives outway the negatives on this one. Just like just about every Raptor has said, nobody thought this series was going to be a cakewalk for either team. They were able to recover from a missed opportunity against the Bucks and hopefully they can do the same through the rest of the Finals.