There’s no such thing as an NBA Finals loss that doesn’t sting, but some of them hurt more than others. The J.R. Smith Disaster was so demoralizing that you knew, even though it happened in Game 1, that the Cavs would never recover. Last night’s Game 2, which the Raptors lost 109-104, was not nearly as cinematic a disaster for Toronto, though it did bring the ominous sense that the Raptors may have already let the series slip through their fingers. Whether that sense turns out to be true probably depends on how many guys the Warriors can put on the floor going forward.
The Raptors have got to feel so stupid for not winning this game. Already recipients of the blessing that is getting to play the Warriors without Kevin Durant, they were then given a dehydrated Steph Curry, who managed to score 23 points while shooting 35 percent from the field. The gifts kept piling up: Kevon Looney getting knocked out of the game with a chest contusion, DeMarcus Cousins needing to play big minutes while waddling around like he was Greg Monroe, and Andre Iguodala still fighting the effects of his calf injury from Game 1.
Despite all this, Toronto was only able to build a five-point lead heading into halftime. The playmaking of Draymond Green and the shotmaking of Klay Thompson kept the Warriors afloat, and those two took over and sparked an 18-0 run to begin the second half. Thompson, who switched over to guard Kawhi Leonard, had a lot to do with that zero from the Raptors. So of course, Toronto got yet another break, with Thompson leaving the game after pulling his hamstring early in the fourth. The entire game turned thanks to Thompson’s ability to check Leonard, and his exit from the game presented the Raptors with a chance to tilt things back the other way. Like they had done with all their previous gifts, though, the Raptors dropped that one right in the gutter and managed to score just 24 points in the final frame.
Credit the Warriors’ championship experience and, uh, grit if you want to, but it’s straight-up embarrassing to drop a home game to any team, even one as great as the Warriors, that’s so thoroughly hobbled. A superteam is an inherently top-heavy one, and worthy opponents should be able to fend off guys like Quinn Cook and Alfonzo McKinnie when the stars are hurt or misfiring. Instead, the Raptors had to leave Toronto being heckled by one guy in street clothes and another guy with a ice pack latched to his leg:
Now all there is to do is wait and see just how big of an opportunity the Raptors squandered last night. It’s entirely possible that the injuries Thompson, Iguodala, Looney, and Cousins are dealing with will keep them at a reduced speed for the remainder of the series, and that we won’t see Kevin Durant set foot on the floor at all. That potential reality would give the Raptors plenty of hope that they can overcome last night’s disappointment and get back to asserting themselves over a severely diminished opponent. But if Durant comes back, and Thompson shows no ill effects going forward, and Curry remembers to drink some water, and the Raptors find themselves needing to win three more games against a fully operational death machine? Well, they’re gonna wish they hadn’t screwed up so badly last night.