The Raptors took advantage of a golden opportunity in Game 3, earning a 123-109 road win over a shorthanded Warriors squad to take a 2-1 series lead.
With Kevin Durant (calf), Kevon Looney (chest) and Klay Thompson (hamstring) sidelined, Toronto's starters outscored Golden State's 106-83. Led by 30 points from Kawhi Leonard, each member of the Raptors' starting unit scored 17 or more points - Kyle Lowry (23) and Danny Green (18) were huge in that they shot a combined 11-for-19 from beyond the arc while Pascal Siakam added 18 points of his own and Marc Gasol scored 17, supporting the notion that good things happen when he is aggressive on the offensive end.
For Golden State, a postseason career-high 47 points from Stephen Curry wasn't enough as it could not overcome the absences from its core. Outside of Curry, the team shot 36.7% from the field - Draymond Green (17) and Andre Iguodala (11) were the only other two Warriors to finish in double figures.
MORE: Instant reaction from Game 3 | Player ratings | Broadcast schedule
For the first and only time in the 2019 Finals, there is just a one-day break in between games as the Raptors and Warriors will take the floor for Game 4 less than 48 hours after finishing Game 3. Can Golden State turn things around with such a quick turnaround or will Toronto build upon the momentum of its big Game 3 win?
Here are a few things to watch in Game 4 of the NBA Finals…
Raptors 3-point shooting
"Let it rip."
During Nick Nurse's postgame press conference, it was revealed that the whiteboard inside the Raptors locker room at Oracle Arena bore that simple, yet effective message.
Danny Green (6-for-10) and Kyle Lowry (5-for-9) led the way for Toronto as it knocked down 17 of its 38 (44.7%) 3-point attempts in Game 3, falling one shy of the team's postseason-high of 18 made 3-pointers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Just as it was throughout the regular season, the 3-point shot has been a key component to the Raptors postseason success.
MORE: Danny Green shoots up the Finals record book
Just how key?
In four of the team's seven postseason losses, it has made 10 or fewer triples in the game and in Game 2 of the Finals, the Raptors knocked down just 11 threes at a 28.9% clip. For context, Toronto is now 9-0 when shooting at least 37.0% from beyond the arc this postseason and 7-1 when hitting 13 or more 3-pointers in the playoffs.
While it's sometimes difficult to get going on the road, the Raptors will need to continue to knock down jumpers from the perimeter in order to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the Finals. The re-emergence of Green in the postseason and Lowry in the Finals bodes well for Toronto as it opens up driving lanes for Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam, who finished the game with six assists apiece.
Above all, 3-point shooting provides a cushion and an edge against a Warriors team capable of manufacturing points very quickly.
Curry's follow-up performance
It's rare to see something we haven't seen before from Stephen Curry but we did in Game 3.
The Warriors All-NBA point guard single-handedly kept his team in the game, scoring a postseason career-best 47 points to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals. What didn't show up in the box score was the MVP-level effort shown by Curry as he dove on loose balls and was seemingly everywhere as he rested for less than five minutes of game time.
MORE: What they're saying about Curry's game | Top 10 Finals scoring performances
With a number of variables ahead of Game 4, Curry will again be looked upon to be all that the Warriors need.
While we've learned to never rule out the impossible from the two-time MVP, it's highly unlikely that he can put forth yet another 40-plus point performance in Game 4, especially given the fact he'll get just one day of rest in between games.
As his minutes - and workload - pile up, Curry might have to tap into another gear in order to keep Golden State afloat, at least in its shorthanded form. Does he have it in him? If the Raptors find ways to key in on Curry and make things more difficult than they already have been, all eyes will shift to…
The potential return of Thompson and Durant
It was tough enough without one All-Star, but the Warriors were without two in Game 3.
The absence of Klay Thompson, who missed a postseason game for just the first time in his career, was made evident by the aforementioned scoring gap between Curry and the rest of the team.
For the Warriors, encouraging reports indicate that Steve Kerr expects Thompson to be back for Game 4 while the status of Kevin Durant, who the team has not spoken much on, remains up in the air.
Even if Durant is unable to return, getting Thompson back in the lineup should both restore some order in the team's rotation and provide much-needed relief to Curry on the offensive end. If and when Thompson returns, the Warriors fate will largely rely on whether or not his timing is impacted by the looming effects of his injury.
The effects of a hamstring injury on Thompson's lateral quickness will likely impact his all-league defensive play but if he is able to fluidly move without the ball to get open looks, he'll more than likely pick up where he left off in Game 2, where he scored a team-high 25 points (on 10-for-17 shooting).
Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green have been here before, as has Patrick McCaw.
After the three Raptors that have won a title, this is unfamiliar territory for the remainder of the team and the franchise as a whole. How will they follow their performance from Game 3?
Prior to the series, a key storyline would be whether or not this team would just be happy to have reached the big stage - that was quickly disproven in the series opener. Now, having regained home-court advantage, this Raptors team could easily rely on the two remaining games at Scotiabank Arena to win the title.
That's where the mentality comes in.
Following the game, it was business as usual for the Raptors. 13-year veteran Kyle Lowry maintained his composure as he has done in each postseason series, providing a reminder that it's the first team to win four games, and the job's not nearly done.
With the leadership of the champions and veterans on the roster, the Raptors can once again dispel the notion of just being happy to have a series lead by showing a sense of urgency from the get-go in Game 4 to take advantage of a vulnerable and once again potentially shorthanded Warriors team that will desperately avoid falling into a 3-1 hole.
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