The Toronto Raptors got their first NBA Finals appearance off to a perfect start with a 118-109 win over the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 on Thursday night. The game, in many ways, was not as close as that score would indicate. The Raptors were the better, more aggressive team in just about every facet. They got the surprise performances an underdog needs -- 52 combined points for Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol. They smothered the Warriors on defense, particularly Stephen Curry, even though he still wound up with 34 points.
In gritty Warriors fashion, the game stayed close enough the whole way, but every time Golden State threatened to put a run together, the Raptors had the answer. Now they have a 1-0 lead and still hold home-court advantage heading into Game 2 on Sunday.
Here are four main takeaways from Toronto's Game 1 victory.
1. Is Pascal Siakam serious?
There are NBA Finals debuts, and then there is what Siakam did in Game 1 -- 32 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal on an incredible 14-of-17 shooting. At one point he made 11 straight shots from the field. Normally a corner 3-point shooter, he hit two above-the-break 3s in the first half and it was right about then that you knew it was his night.
Siakam is so good with floaters and runners and creative finishes. He picked his spots to beat the defense back and attack early. He was a monster defensively, as were all of the Raptors, switching and doubling everywhere, the rotations absolutely on point. In the closing stretch of the game, he did this to Draymond Green, who was completely outplayed by Siakam in what was billed as a pivotal matchup coming into this series:
Is it too early to start the Siakam-for-MVP train?
2. Steph Curry needs more help
Curry finished with 34 points, five assists and five rebounds on 8-of-18 shooting including 4 of 9 from deep, but it never really felt like he got going. He drew a lot of contact and got to the line 14 times, a handful of which came courtesy of some overzealous Raptors fouls on the perimeter while they were in the bonus, but this game was a glaring example of why the Warriors ARE NOT BETTER WITHOUT KEVIN DURANT.
Curry was hounded all night long. He saw double team after double team. He was trapped hard on pick and rolls. He got his points, yes, but those points didn't become exponential in the way that they often do, igniting the whole offense as he breaks down the foundation of the defense. Toronto kept Curry contained pretty much to his own production, and when that's the case, and he's not creating easy offense for Klay Thompson and Draymond Green and everyone else, that's when you need Durant, who doesn't need anyone's help to score, to just flat-out play wingman with Curry, particularly in the half court.
Thompson got it going in stretches and finished with a decent 21 points, but Green was nowhere near the player we saw against Portland, on either end of the floor. That should have been expected. The Raptors have way better players, and thus tougher matchups for Green, on both ends, than the Blazers. He was not going to come into this series and look like a Hall-of-Fame point guard and shot-blocking ball-hawking machine, but he needs to be way more effective than he was in scoring 10 points while not providing much defensive resistance on Thursday.
Besides those three, no other Warrior scored in double figures.
3. The old Marc Gasol
Gasol was brilliant in Game 1, posting 20 points and seven boards on 6-of-10 shooting. He banged 3s when Golden State left him open. He made so many smart passes to keep the offense moving for Toronto, which collectively made the extra pass for great shots all night.
But it was Gasol's defense that stole the show. Gasol was the man often tagged as the trapper on Curry in the pick and roll, and he was incredible, turning back the clock to his Defensive Player of the Year days by keeping Curry from turning the corner and trapping him relentlessly. Gasol baited Curry into a couple turnovers and tied him up on another possession. That was vintage Gasol and it couldn't have come at a better time.
4. Kawhi doesn't have to be Superman
This is the best sign of all for the Raptors. Had Kawhi gone for 40, we would've been asking, "OK, how long can he keep that up?" But he didn't. He was solid with 23 points, eight boards and five assists, but he just kind of grinded it out, getting himself to the line 12 times and hitting a monster 3 late in the game that was yet another Toronto answer when it looked like Golden State might put a late run together.
If the Raptors can win with Kawhi just kind of having an average game, and Kyle Lowry not scoring in double digits, and nobody off the bench other than Fred VanVleet doing anything, you know this is going to be a heck of a tough series for the Warriors.
Recap all the highlights and updates from Game 1 below:
How to watch Warriors vs. Raptors Game 2
- Date: Sunday, June 2
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- Location: Scotiabank Arena -- Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- TV channel: ABC
- Streaming: WatchESPN
- Live stats: GameTracker
- Odds: TBD