The Raptors strike first.
Led by 32 points from Pascal Siakam, the Toronto Raptors earned a 118-109 win over the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals.
Toronto played stellar defence throughout the night, holding the Warriors to just 43.6% shooting from the field as Stephen Curry (34 points) and Klay Thompson (21 points) combined to shoot 15-for-35 (42.9%) from the field.
For Toronto, the win is encouraging considering Kawhi Leonard (5-for-14, 23 points) and Kyle Lowry (2-for-9, seven points) did not put forth their best offensive performances.
With that in mind, here are some takeaways from Game 1…
The first half sets the tone
The Warriors had been here before. The Raptors hadn't. How would Toronto come out the gate?
The question was quickly answered when Danny Green seemingly emerged from his Conference Finals slump by hitting an early 3-pointer to score the first NBA Finals bucket in Raptors franchise history.
Danny Green scores the @raptors first #NBAFinals basket in franchise history! pic.twitter.com/xEHxf2jEeZ- NBA Canada (@NBACanada) May 31, 2019
Green's triple would be the first of five that Toronto would hit in the first quarter as it took a four-point lead into the second.
By the half, the Raptors had knocked down eight of their 19 3-point attempts, shot 20-for-40 (50.0%) from the field while also holding the Warriors to 15-for-41 (36.6%) shooting to take a 59-49 lead into the break.
It was just the eighth time that the Warriors failed to score 50 points in the first half of an NBA Finals game under Steve Kerr (per Basketball-Reference).
Perhaps the most impressive part of the Raptors first half was that Kawhi Leonard was just 2-for-7 from the field and Kyle Lowry was 1-for-5; it was the contributions of Marc Gasol (14 points, five rebounds), Pascal Siakam (12 points, three rebounds, three assists), Green (eight points) and Fred VanVleet (seven points) that propelled Toronto.
A limited Warriors offence
For just the fourth time this postseason, Golden State was held under 110 points.
While 110 is seemingly an arbitrary figure that is rather high, unconventional standards come when dealing with a historically potent offence such as this one, but Game 1 was a different story. Stephen Curry scored over 30 points for the sixth consecutive game, finishing with 34 points on 8-for-18 shooting from the field, 4-for-9 shooting from beyond the arc and 14-for-14 from the charity stripe.
After Curry, Klay Thompson scored 21 points (on 8-for-17 shooting) while Draymond Green put forth a triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists - those three were the only Warriors to finish in double figures in Game 1. In comparison, the Raptors saw five different players finish in double figures.
To make matters worse, the Warriors committed 17 turnovers that limited their opportunity and led to 17 Raptors points.
Kevon Looney came close with nine points and five other Warriors finished with six points, but the offensive performance begs the question: Where will the rest of the Warriors offence come from?
As Kevin Durant nurses his troublesome calf injury, we're now reminded of how important he is to the flow of the offence and the team's ability to put points on the board. While Curry can be expected to provide a similar performance and Klay can be even better, the offensive output from the rest of the team is on par with what they should be expected to bring to the table this series.
DeMarcus Cousins struggled, scoring just three points in eight minutes of action - can he provide more offence? Can Andre Iguodala, who hasn't hit a 3-pointer since the Conference Semifinals find his stroke from the perimeter? Can Jordan Bell or Kevon Looney be active enough to score in the open floor and on the interior?
These are all questions that the Warriors must answer in order to see a more balanced scoring attack in the absence of their superstar forward.
A big night for Gasol
Prior to the NBA Finals, the most Marc Gasol had scored as a Raptor was 19 points; his postseason high was 17 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
In his Finals debut, Gasol set a new Raptors high with 20 points (on 6-for-10 shooting) and grabbed seven rebounds before fouling out late in the game. That Gasol saved his best scoring performance to date with Toronto for Game 1 of the NBA Finals is worth plenty of acknowledgement.
Game 1 marked just the sixth time that Gasol scored in double figures this postseason - the Raptors are 5-1 in such games.
As the numbers indicate, an engaged Gasol on both ends of the floor means good things for Toronto, who brought the 34-year-old veteran in at the trade deadline for moments such as this one.
He'll look to replicate his performance in Game 2.
Pascal Siakam shines
When the Raptors met the Warriors for the first time during the regular season, Pascal Siakam erupted for a then-career-high 26 points as Toronto edged Golden State by three points in overtime.
In Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Siakam had 26 points through the first three quarters.
Toronto's third-year forward's best work came in the third quarter, where he failed to miss a shot. He scored 14 points after shooting 6-for-6 from the field and 2-for-2 from the free throw line as the Raptors held serve in a quarter where the Warriors are notorious for swaying the course of games.
Siakam would go on to set a new postseason career high by leading the Raptors with 32 points (on 14-for-17 shooting).
It wasn't just his scoring, either.
Siakam grabbed eight rebounds (tying a team-high with Kawhi Leonard), dished out five assists and had two blocks including a monstrous pinned layup off the backboard.
🚫 SIAKAM 🚫#WeTheNorth | #NBAFinals pic.twitter.com/1QrLgEZvzg- NBA Canada (@NBACanada) May 31, 2019
On the biggest stage that featured many stars, Siakam shined the brightest.