This year’s NBA Finals have not lived up to all of the hype and entertainment that I have personally hoped for. I say this because the Toronto Raptors with the help of mainly Kawhi Leonard, have been making easy work of the three-time champs, the Golden State Warriors, more difficult. Now, granted the Warriors have not had potentially their best player Kevin Durant at all during this series until last night. However, this is the same team that went 73-9 which to this day is still the most wins by any team in a regular season.
This is why I am having trouble seeing why this team has just been getting handled by the Toronto Raptors. Nonetheless, I think that I have cracked the code and found the answer to this brain rattling question. Do NBA fans remember back in 2017 when the San Antonio Spurs met the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs? In game 1 of this series of the Western Conference finals, the Spurs were up by a 25-point lead. Then a dirty play by former Warriors center Zaza Pachulia caused Kawhi to go out late into the game and forced him to sit out the rest of the playoffs due to an ankle injury.
In this series, the Warriors were, of course, heavy favorites to sweep the Spurs, but when they ran into Kawhi they faced serious problems. I feel they would’ve lost ultimately if he stayed healthy and could finish the series. Kawhi actually has a pretty impressive record against the Warriors consisting of 16-10. I believe this to be an attribute to his outstanding defense and fundamental offense. This may be the reason why the Raptors are currently up 3-2 under the wing of Kawhi. It also helps that they have a deep bench and depth on their team which a team needs if they have hopes of facing and defeating the Warriors.
The excellent coaching of Greg Popovich obviously has not been put to waste as the Raptors know exactly how to guard Golden States fast pace offense and quick passes they do, as well as know how to play the screen and rolls they run. This is what I feel to be the impact of the defensive genius that Kawhi so happens to be. Forgive me if it seems as if I am disregarding the coaching of Nick Nurse head coach of the Raptors, but in reality, I don’t see anything he has done except take the team that Dwyane Casey brought to Eastern Conference Finals that tasted defeat to LeBron almost every year. Now that LeBron has since gone to the west and Toronto upgraded their former all-star Demar Derozan with Kawhi, all their recent success shouldn’t be much of a surprise. They were number one in the Eastern Conference for the past couple of years under Casey, but now that their biggest roadblock is out of the way, let’s see if they can finally accomplish the end goal of an NBA championship.