Posted on June 6, 2019, by Travis Pulver

It is way too soon for a game to be considered ‘must-win’ for the Toronto Raptors in their best of seven series with the Golden State Warriors. But if they didn’t win Wednesday night in Game Three of the NBA Finals against an injury-depleted Warriors team—well, then they wouldn’t deserve to be champions.

So, it is a good thing they did win.

Via @ESPNStatsInfo

When a team is lucky enough to get an advantage on the Warriors, they have to make the most of it. With Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson missing Game Three, the advantage belonged to the Raptors.  But with how poorly they shot the ball in Game Two, there was a reason to doubt whether they’d take advantage of the situation or not.

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While there were times it looked like they might mess up a great opportunity to get a road win in the NBA Finals, in the end, they took care of business with a 123-109 win in Oakland.

“I give our guys a lot of credit. I thought we answered a lot of runs,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said after the game, via ESPN. “Each time they chipped, we kind of answered back. And that’s kind of what you got to do if you’re going to keep your lead.”

Toronto got off to a good start and led by as much as ten in the first quarter before settling for a seven-point lead heading into the second, 36-29. Steph Curry did his best to carry the Warriors in the quarter with 17-points, tying his career best for points in a quarter during the playoffs.

The Raptors led by double digits for most of the second quarter before a late Golden State push cut the deficit to eight, 60-52.

At this point, fans had to be a little worried. A similar situation existed at the half of Game Two, and the Warriors came out in the second half and went on an 18-0 to take command of the game. But this time, the Raptors were able to keep the Warriors from having another dominant third quarter.

“We know that they’re going to make good runs and make shots but we watched that third quarter in Game 2 and we’ve just got to continue to play with pace,” Kyle Lowry said after the game, via ESPN. “That was the one thing about it, we played with pace, half-court, full-court, and that was a big thing for us.”

The Raptors were able to add to their lead in the third and took a 13-point advantage into the fourth, 96-83. Golden State got within seven early in the quarter but was unable to close the gap. Toronto went on to win 123-109.

To have a shot at stealing a win, the Warriors knew they needed Steph Curry to have a Herculean type game, and he did. Curry recorded nearly half of the Warriors points with 47-points on the night, a new single-game career high for the playoffs. But no one else really helped out. Draymond Green had 17 points and Andre Iguodala had 11, but the rest of the team only chipped in 34 points.

Toronto, on the other hand, got exactly what they needed. Not only did Kawhi Leonard end up having a solid night with 30 points but he got a ton of help from the rest of the team with the entire starting five (and Fred VanVleet) scoring in double figures.

While Serge Ibaka only scored six points, he also chipped in six blocks.

While Toronto now holds the series lead, 2-1, extending it could be hard in Game Four Friday night. The Warriors are expecting Klay Thompson to play and there is a chance Kevin Durant does as well. Golden State is favored by 5.5 points.

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