Golden State Warriors vs. Toronto Raptors Game 1 Pick
Golden State Warriors (69-29 SU, 42-54-2 ATS) vs. Toronto Raptors (70-30 SU, 48-52 ATS)
When: Thursday, May 30th, 2019 – 9:00 PM ET
Where: ScotiaBank Arena – Toronto, ON
Point Spread: GS +1 / TOR -1
Power Rankings: Toronto -3
Takeaways From Conference Finals
The Warriors brought the broom with them in the Western Conference Finals as they swept the Portland Trailblazers. Most notably, the W’s did this without the services of all-NBA sensation Forward Kevin Durant. In three of the aforementioned series victories, the two-time defending champions overcame deficits of at least 17 points. Golden State defeated Portland in overtime by a score of 119-117 when they were last in action on Monday, May 20th. A push was the result of the Warriors closing as a two-point favorite.
As for the Raptors, they took down the team with the best record in the NBA in six games. After falling behind 2-0 to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals, the outlook appeared grim for We The North. However, Toronto would survive a double-overtime duel with the Deer in Game Three and continue onto win four straight games to punch their ticket to their first ever NBA Finals appearance. Toronto defeated Milwaukee 100-94 in Game Six on Saturday to cover for us and for their fourth consecutive outing as 1.5-point favorite.
How the Public is Betting Game One
Currently, 69% of the betting public are delighting in the Warriors as a one-point underdog. Nevertheless, the Raptors opened as a one-point underdog but we have since the line move by two points to where Toronto is now the favorite spotting the point.
The Historicals / Betting History
The Raptors swept the regular season series with the Warriors to hand them defeats in both Toronto and Oakland. In fact, the Raptors defeated the Warriors 113-93 when the two teams last met in Oakland in December despite closing as a 7.5-point underdog. Overall, Toronto is 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight meetings with Golden State.
A central narrative surrounding the NBA Finals is whether or not Golden State will get Kevin Durant back in the fold at some point in the series. His status remains uncertain for the series but what we do know is that he will be out for Game One. Much to the chagrin of KD, the Warriors have not lost a game since he has been side-lined as Golden State’s “Core Four” of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguodala have picked up the slack in his absence and catalyzed the Warriors’ offense to look comparable to the squad that won 73 games in the 2015-16 season. The Warriors will also be without Center DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins who has been out since Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Boogie is expected to return at some point in the NBA Finals but will also be unavailable for Game One.
Rest Advantages and Concerns
The Warriors had nine days to prepare for Game One while the Raptors had a five day reprieve to get ready for the contest. For intent and purposes, both squads had significant time to rest up for the first game of the Finals. In Golden State’s case, they may find themselves at a disadvantage given the long lay-over and the potential to come in flat associated with significant periods of idleness. However, if there was a team that would be impervious to this phenomenon it would be the two-time defending champions who have navigated the post-season successfully for the last five seasons (they have won the last two NBA Finals after all). As for Toronto, it gave them a great benefit to wrap up the East in six games on Saturday in the Great White North as they were able to stay home and get themselves together to host Game One without incurring any travel wear and tear from playing a Game Seven in Milwaukee.
How Will Golden State’s Offense Deal With Scrappy Raptors Defense?
The key match-up in this series will be Golden State’s explosive offense against the Raptors salty defense. Situationally, this is a good scenario for the Raptors as they just made a mockery of the best scoring offense in the NBA in their last series, the Milwaukee Bucks. At the conclusion of the regular season, the Bucks were the most productive offense in the NBA scoring an average of 118.1 points per game. However, Toronto’s defense was able to stick the Deer and keep them under 100 points in Game Four and Game Six. Overall, Toronto’s offense held Milwaukee to 98.3 points per match in the final three fixtures of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Dinos are now up against a Golden State team that finished the regular season averaging 117.7 points per game placing them 2nd in the NBA. Given how they have a blueprint to follow from slowing down Milwaukee, the Raptors in theory should be able to rinse, wash, and repeat here against the Warriors. Should Golden State find its offensive operations trifled, the Raptors could easily take Game One.
Will Golden State Be Able To Contain Kawhi?
Many analysts and pundits have heralded Kevin Durant as perhaps the “Greatest Basketball Player in the World” but Raptors Forward Kawhi Leonard is making a convincing argument otherwise. So far over the span of the post-season, no team has been able to stop Leonard. Kawhi has averaged 31.2 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per contest while attaining an incredible 50.7 field goal percentage and hitting a remarkable 38.8% of his three-point attempts. Though he is humble and a class act, Kawhi is a dangerous human being on the basketball court, readily capable of taking over the series and carrying the entire country of Canada on his back. Against Golden State, Kawhi has been a tough riddle to solve for the Warriors as he averaged 37 points against them in the two regular season games between the two sides. Should Kawhi go off in Game One, once again all signs point to a Toronto triumph.
Keith’s Pick to Cover the Spread: Toronto -1
There are some bookmakers that would argue that the Raptors should be laying more points to the Warriors. I am in firm agreement with that philosophy and for me the price dictates the play here. If the Raptors win by a more than a free throw, we cash in. I like that spot. If Toronto were up against any other team in the league, the Raptors would certainly be a heavier favorite on their own floor. However, because the Raptors are up against the dynasty of the NBA with a championship pedigree, takers can expect to pay a premium to back Golden State and as a result the value will be with Toronto by default. The Raptors have a true home court advantage behind them, Golden State does not know how stop Kawhi Leonard, and the Raptors have a format to follow to win against the Warriors. All of these ingredients position the Raptors to win this game by at least a measly basket. I am taking Toronto at -1.