Kawhi Leonard, Raptors Beat Warriors in Overtime; Kevin Durant Drops 51November 30, 2018
The Toronto Raptors will (likely) get their shot at the full-strength Golden State Warriors in two weeks.
For now, though, Toronto did its job by taking care of the depleted version.
Kawhi Leonard scored 37 points and Pascal Siakam added 26, as the Raptors defended their home court in 131-128 overtime win over the Warriors on Thursday.
Golden State went up north on a three-game winning streak without Stephen Curry and Draymond Green but struggled mightily on the defensive end. The Raptors shot 52.2 percent from the floor and knocked down 15 threes.
Kevin Durant scored a game-high 51 points in the loss.
Serge Ibaka had 20 points and four rebounds, while Jonas Valanciunas added 12 points off the bench as the Raptors big men dominated.
Toronto has won seven straight games and has taken a commanding lead in the Eastern Conference standings.
Absence of Steph, Draymond Expose Warriors' Depth Issues
Durant did his job. He's scored 40-plus points in three straight games and looks like he's at the peak of his offensive powers. The pull-up from the logo at the end of the third quarter had Toronto fans shocked—including Drake. The three to tie the game with nine seconds left was cold-blooded.
KD has taken a lot of criticism for the Warriors' struggles without Steph and Draymond, who were out with groin and toe injuries, respectively. He deserves little.
Klay Thompson did his job. The new king of the mid-range finished with 23 points and knocked down three threes—his sixth straight game with at least 20 points and a trio of three-pointers.
The problem was everyone else. Jonas Jerebko had an out-of-nowhere stellar game with 20 points, nine rebounds and three assists, but he remained a minus defensively on a night opposing bigs thrashed the Dubs. Quinn Cook, Andre Iguodala and Damian Jones combined for just 16 points.
Having four of the league's 25 best players—and perhaps five of them when DeMarcus Cousins returns from his torn Achilles—cures all ills. But the Warriors are playing with only two of those guys. Iguodala can't and doesn't bring it every night during the regular season for good reason.
From an individual assessment standpoint, a KD-Klay Warriors team with the exact roster they played with Thursday would rank among the NBA's worst supporting casts. We're finding out just how top-heavy the Warriors are; they're just lucky the top is pretty heavy when everyone is healthy.
Ibaka-Siakam Front Line Is the Key to Raptors' Finals Hopes
The Raptors found their blueprint to beating the Warriors. Siakam, Ibaka and Valanciunas combined for 58 points and went 21-of-28 from the floor. Siakam and Ibaka knocked down four of seven threes.
The emergence of the Ibaka-Siakam frontcourt has been the biggest change since the shift from Dwane Casey to Nick Nurse at head coach. Ibaka looked cooked for most of last season. Raptors fans were clamoring for Ibaka trades all summer, and the $45 million remaining on his contract looked like an albatross.
Ibaka has looked rejuvenated while playing the center spot under Nurse, averaging a career-high in scoring while finishing at peak-OKC levels near the rim.
Siakam, on the other hand, has been a revelation. The man won an Eastern Conference Player of the Week award a month into the season after being a bit player a year ago.
We're a quarter of the way through the season. The Ibaka-Siakam duo is legit, and we'll just have to see whether it carries over to the playoffs.
Ibaka has a recent history of abysmal postseason play. He was borderline unplayable last season and got embarrassed by the Cavs. Siakam averaged all of 6.6 points per game in the 2018 postseason.
If Nurse tapped into something that can carry into May and June, the Raptors have the best shot of any team at unseating Golden State.
The Warriors travel to Detroit to play the Pistons on Saturday. The Raptors play the Cavs in Cleveland on Saturday.