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Raptors – Warriors

Steph Curry Kawhi Leonard NBA finals Warriors Raptors poster

The 2019 NBA Finals will start on Thursday night with the Toronto Raptors hosting the Golden State Warriors in Game 1, in Canada.

The Raptors (2nd seed in the East) are coming after a somewhat surprising win over the Milwaukee Bucks, coming back from 0-2 down to win 4-2 against the team with the best record in the regular season. With Kawhi Leonard in special form and with the role players producing, the Raptors managed to advance to the NBA finals for the first time in franchise history, and are the first Canadian team to reach this stage.

The Warriors (top seed in the West) swept the Portland Trailblazers in the Western Conference finals, and are currently riding a 6 game winning streak. The most impressive thing is they did all this without Kevin Durant, who went down in the Conference finals. Boogie Cousins was also out for the Warriors and Iguodala also missed some games, but the Warriors showed their championship DNA and kept winning despite all the injuries. It was proven again that they are Steph Curry`s team, and that Curry – Thompson – Green is the most lethal trio in basketball.

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Team news: The Raptors might get back OG Anunoby for Game 1, although it seems more likely that he`ll only return in Game 2 or Game 3. The Warriors will still miss Durant, but the big news is that DeMarcus Cousins is back after getting injured at the start of the playoffs. He is expected to play some solid minutes tonight, and that will be a big plus for Golden State`s depth.

With Durant`s absence, the Warriors are considered underdogs in Game 1 in Toronto, but as proven many times before, they can be just as good, or even better, without him. The Warriors are 34-4 in games in which Curry plays and Durant does not. They are 32-1 in the last 33 games in the same situation. They are 7-0 in the playoffs, and 6-0 in the 2019 playoffs. They were champions before he joined them, and they are proving that with Steph Curry at helm they are still the best team in the league.

Considering that the Warriors play just as good without Durant, and since the odds are always (much) higher on them without KD, the effect is that the Dubs cover the spread at an incredible rate when Curry plays and KD does not. A fair estimation would be a rate of around 70%, which is exceptional.

Now, the Warriors could have definitely used KD in this matchup against the Raptors because of Kawhi Leonard, but even so you have to feel the Warriors are favorites here.

This will be the first finals game ever for the Raptors, and the pressure will be massive for them at home. Aside from Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka and Danny Green, they really have nobody with experience at this level. Meanwhile the Warriors are in the Finals for a fifth straight time and are three time champions. This gap in experience could hurt the Raptors in Game 1 at home.

The Warriors also have a few more days of rest, which should make them more fresh, but that could also backfire and make the Warriors rusty – so it could work both ways.

Later Edit: One thing I initially forgot to mention is that the Warriors are exceptional in the opening game of a series. They are 18-1 in Game 1’s in the playoffs since their dynasty began in the 2014-2015 season.

Betting on Warriors without KD has been incredibly successful as proven many times before, so with them underdogs tonight, you have to trust them against an inexperienced Raptors side – especially as we don`t have any relevant matchups between these two sides to analyze (the two games in the regular season were won by Toronto, but teams were different and the Warriors have a different intensity in the playoffs). Boogie Cousins coming back to give them some solid help will be an edge for the Warriors as it will fix their depth issues. My tip will be Golden State to win. Prediction: Toronto Raptors – Golden State Warriors 100 – 105.

Pick: Warriors
Odds: 2.05 @ Betfair Sportsbook
Stake: 8
Possible profit: 8.40
Event date: 31 May

About Rostick

Former bookie & water polo player. Rugby Union expert. - EDITOR INFO & STATS
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