Raptors and Warriors face off for the first time since the NBA Finals
The Toronto Raptors are going back to the Bay Area to face the Golden State Warriors tonight for time since winning their first NBA championship in June, 2019.
The last time both teams met, it was game six of the NBA Finals at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.
That was the last time an NBA game was played at the Oracle Arena. They now play at the Chase Centre in San Francisco, California.
Raptors HQ editor Josh Kern said that game six was a little bit anticlimactic.
“if you remember the last few seconds of that game took forever so it was kind of like waiting at the edge of your seat to finally finish and The Raptors to finally win,” Kern said.
Since then, the Raptors lost their Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard to the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State lost their two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets.
While, both teams were not expected to go back the finals, they were expected to go back to playoffs.
The Warriors do not have shooting guard Klay Thompson this season due to his ACL injury that he suffered during the Finals.
They signed former Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell to a five-year deal worth $117 million with the hope to go to the playoffs.
That plan did not work. Golden State did not met expectations as they are currently last in the Western Conference and traded Russell to the Minnesota Timberwolves during the NBA trade deadline.
One of the reasons Golden State are not in the playoffs is because point guard Steph Curry broke his left hand during the Oct. 31, 2019 game against the Phoenix Suns.
“Once Curry got hurt, I think it was kind of expected that they would go downhill,” Kern said.
As the Warriors are below expectations, the Raptors are exceeding expectations by holding the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
“I think most people around here in Toronto had them sort of in the middle of the playoff race, maybe around the four or five seed,” Kern said. “For them to be the number two seed and have the record that they do, especially considering all the injuries that they’ve had, it’s been great.”
Curry will play tonight for the first time since Oct. 31, 2019.
Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins told NBA.com that he is ready for his teammate to return to the basketball court.
“I’m very excited. I feel like everybody is,” Wiggins said. “He’s the type of player that single handedly he’s going to come and change the way everyone plays for the better. So, I’m excited. He’s a game-changer.”
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse told Sportsnet that he thinks it’s going to be great to go to their new arena face Curry and the Warriors.
“I would imagine they will be energized and the place will be excited and I hope we can get some rest and figure out a defence to stop him,” Nurse said.
The Raptors also have a couple of players injured with Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol all questionable to play in tonight’s game.
“I haven’t heard yet today, I don’t think the injury report comes out for a couple of hours Whether or not Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol and Fred VanVleet going to play,” Kern said. “If they do play, even if one of them play, I think the Raptors should be the heavy favorites for tonight.”
He also said if Ibaka, VanVleet and Gasol don’t play, he still think the Raptors should be favoruite to win tonight.
With a win tonight, Toronto will officially clinch a spot in the playoffs. This would be their seventh straight appearance in the playoffs since 2014 and overall 12th in there 25-year history.