The Toronto Raptors have regained control of the 2019 NBA Finals with a 123-109 win over the shorthanded Golden State Warriors in Game 3 on Wednesday night. Toronto leads the series 2-1 with Game 4 scheduled for Friday. Stephen Curry put on, but it just wasn't enough as Toronto had an answer every time the Warriors got within three possessions in the second half. Not only did the Raptors shoot the lights out, but they hit so many huge shots to keep Golden State at bay.
Curry finished with 47 points, becoming the second player in NBA history to post at least that point total in a Finals game loss, joining LeBron James, who had 51 for the Cavs in last year's Game 1 loss to the Warriors. Kawhi Leonard led the way with 30 points for Toronto, which was just too much for a tough Golden State team playing without Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney.
Here are four takeaways from Game 3:
1. Curry just ended a lot of silly arguments
Curry will not be happy in any way with his 47 points in a loss. But this needed to happen for people who have forgotten how unbelievably all-time great Stephen Curry is because he has been willing to dramatically alter his game and hand the keys to the Warriors over to Kevin Durant. Curry was so magnificent it's hard to put into the words as he became just the second player in NBA history to score 47 points in a Finals loss, joining LeBron James.
That LeBron performance came last year in Game 1 against Curry's and Durant's Warriors. Similarly, LeBron's Cavs were completely outgunned, and he went me-against-the-world and nearly pulled it off.
But like LeBron back then against Curry's Warriors, this time it was Curry continually looking up at the scoreboard and finding his team trailing despite utterly dominating the game. How frustrating that must be.
But listen, a lot of dumb debates ended tonight. In terms of current players, stop trying to put anyone other than LeBron and Kevin Durant in Steph's class. Forget Giannis. Forget Kawhi. Forget Anthony Davis. Forget James Harden. Forget everyone but Durant and LeBron.
In terms of historical point guard comparisons, forget everyone but Magic Johnson. There's just no credible argument to be had for anyone else anymore. In truth, there hasn't been an argument for a while. Isiah Thomas and John Stockton were passed long ago, but some people needed to see a performance like this, under these conditions, to get off their old-school perch. They got it. Their arguments are toast. But the Warriors are still down 2-1 and Curry doesn't care about any of this right now.
2. Toronto's 'others' had the answer all night
The Raptors caught a monster break playing this Warriors team without Durant, Thompson and Looney, but they still had to win it. While Curry had the Warriors within seven points on a bunch of second-half possessions, the Raptors seemingly always answered with a bucket, if not a big run, to put the distance right back to double digits.
And it wasn't Kawhi Leonard doing the damage -- until the second half. Danny Green, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet hit a million of these answer shots. They were brilliant, combining to go 14 for 25 from 3-point range, and again, so many of those 3s came with the Warriors on the cusp of turning this into a nail-biter. Incredible.
Serge Ibaka, meanwhile, did it on the defensive end with six blocks. As was the case with so many of the 3s, Ibaka's blocks were timely, too. Pascal Siakam wasn't Game 1 brilliant, but he was great, especially in the first half, refusing to be guarded one-on-one and getting to the basket almost at will in finishing with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
And then you had Kawhi, patiently letting the game come to him with a slow first half only to end with 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists. He hit a pair of 3-pointers and they were both killers, again when the Warriors were right there trying to close the gap.
At the end of the day, it was Curry against a very good Raptors team, all by himself, and it just wasn't enough. The Raptors deserve a ton of credit for not letting down as teams often do when they see multiple star players not playing on the other side. They had good energy all night. They gave Curry too much daylight to get going early, but there wasn't a lot they could've done against him with the mission he was on. The defense was good enough elsewhere, causing turnovers and creating pace the other way.
Toronto won the game. The Warriors didn't lose it. And, folks, are we in for a monster of a series the rest of the way.
3. Cousins just not up to the task
After a huge Game 2, DeMarcus Cousins was dreadful in Game 3. There's just no other way to put it. He couldn't guard anyone, couldn't rotate, couldn't keep Marc Gasol from backing him down like a child, couldn't rebound, couldn't finish at the rim yet he kept forcing his action, and couldn't make the passes we've seen him make and instead got overzealous and turned it over too much.
Cousins was unplayable, but Steve Kerr didn't have a choice with how limited Golden State is without Looney and Durant, the latter of which affords Kerr the luxury of playing Draymond at the five more as K.D. can be a rim protector/rebounder with his length. You can't blame Cousins. He's giving everything he has just to be back in the lineup and playing significant minutes for a team in desperate need of whatever help anyone can give. But it's still the NBA Finals and if you don't produce, you lose. Cousins didn't even come close to producing.
4. Warriors' terrible first-half defense
You can understand the offense struggling with Durant and Thompson out, and to a degree, you can understand the defense struggling without those guys, plus Looney, out as well. But the cakewalk Toronto had to the rim all first half was frankly embarrassing. To say the Warriors provided no resistance would be an understatement. In all my years watching the NBA, I've never seen that many uncontested layups and point-blank shots. It was a warm-up line.
It makes you appreciate Thompson for more than his sorely missed offense. He is an elite on-ball defender as well and Durant is an elite defender in his own right. But the Warriors could've put up a much better effort defensively, nonetheless. If they had, with the way Curry had it going and the way the crowd was just waiting to explode and carry them across the finish line, this might've been a very different outcome.
As it was, the Raptors shot 52.4 percent from the field and better than 44 percent from deep. A lot of that was Toronto flat-out making shots. But a good part of it was Golden State's terrible defense in the first half. The Warriors had a shot to win this game. The defense let them down as much as anything.
Recap all the news and highlights from Game 3 below:
How to watch Warriors vs. Raptors Game 4
- Date: Friday, June 7
- Time: 9 p.m. ET
- Location: Oracle Arena -- Oakland, California
- TV channel: ABC
- Streaming: WatchESPN
- Live stats: GameTracker
- Odds: TBD