Pascal Siakam

USA Today

The Raptors Live Up To The Hype

The Warriors wanted to see if Siakam, Gasol, and FVV could beat them. And they did.

May 31, 2019 - 9:22 am
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I’ve said it time and time again. Almost nothing ever lives up to the hype. But the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals lived up to the hype. Starting with their fans. Holy crap, did they ever live up to the hype. Showing up at 7am and even earlier to watch the game outside? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like that and I know I haven’t seen a crowd like that in a long time, maybe ever.

You know what else I haven’t seen, a tweet like this from Kendrick Perkins: The energy in and outside this arena is RIDICULOUS!!! I’ve NEVER seen anything like this!!! Don’t know if I’m at the Finals, The Club or the inauguration!!! And he capped it off with a J.C. blast.

Someone responded with “C’mon Perk you played in 2012 finals IN OKC” and Perk replied: “Yeah but Bro you have to be here”

You really do have to be there. That joint was rocking. And it had absolutely nothing to do with the guy in the Dell Curry jersey on the sideline, the same guy who was covering up the ink he has of Steph Curry and Kevin Durant on his left arm. He wants to make it about him, but it’s not. And that’s already played.

What it was about last night was Jurassic Park and the fans inside the building. And the Raptors legends who were in the house.

Shootout to all those titans, but especially Jerome Williams in a Jerome Williams jersey. AND WEARING A HEADBAND.

That is awesome. Junkyard Dog was in the building. He played his last NBA game 14 years ago and still showed up last night like he was getting minutes with the second unit. The dude is 46 years old and he can still give you six good fouls off the bench.

What I’m saying is: you don’t lose a Finals game, at home, with Jerome Williams wearing a Jerome Williams gamer and a headband.

And the Raptors didn’t do that. They took control of the game early and never let go en route to a 118-109 win. And that was no fluke. The better team last night won the game. That’s a fact.

Toronto played the game at their pace. They got good looks on offense and they made the Warriors work for every point they got. Nothing was easy for Golden State. No huge runs. None of those momentum swings where the Warriors just flip the game on its head.

Toronto had to have that game. No way you can lose Game 1 to the Warriors and still expect to win that series. Lose Game 1, lose home court, and you’re done. Especially against a team as experienced as the Warriors.

Toronto knew that and they weren’t going to fall into that trap. I told you yesterday, this isn’t Kawhi and Company. They’ve got some players. And even though most of those players had never been in this spot before, the moment was not too big for them at all.

From the outset, the Warriors were making it clear that Kawhi wasn’t going to beat them last night. They bet that Marc Gasol and Pascal Siakam couldn’t beat them. And Pascal did.

14 for 17 for 32 points, eight rebounds, 5 assists.

He did everything.

Scoring.

Passing, like with this absurd touch pass.

And defending, including this filthy rejection when Draymond got past him.

That was a masterful performance from Siakam. Just don’t come in here and tell me that Toronto beating Golden State last night was some upset and that Siakam came out of nowhere.

He’s been here for a while. He’s the most improved player in the NBA for a reason.

If you just discovered him, that’s a you thing, not a Siakam thing. He is an absolute star in the making. This year might be the last year that he doesn’t make an All-Star Game. That’s how good he is. 

I’m not going to say I predicted a performance like that, but you can’t be shocked. He is that good. He didn’t wake up and do this last night. And if he can do that three more times, they win this series.

But it wasn’t just Siakam. There was Marc Gasol draining opening threes. And then FVV dropping this as the shot clock expired in the fourth quarter.

That’s when you knew it was their night…if for some reason you didn’t before.

And that’s the most impressive thing about last night, not that the Raptors won, but that I’ve made it this far without saying much at all about Kawhi. They won Game 1 of the NBA Finals, a game they absolutely had to have, and Kawhi was pretty quiet. Don’t get me wrong, 23 and 8 is good. It’s really good, but it’s not what he had been doing. Because Golden State was determined to make sure that he didn’t have a good game.

The Warriors wanted to see if Siakam, Gasol, and FVV could beat them. And they did.

So then how does Golden State come back in Game 2? Do they make the bet that Siakam and Gasol and FVV can’t do that again? Or they play Kawhi straight up, and play Siakam, Gasol, and the others straight up. And make Kawhi beat them on a potentially messed up leg.

If you’re Toronto, this is exactly what you want. A 1-0 lead, a jacked up fan base, and Golden State puzzling over those questions. And if you’re the Warriors, you have to answer those questions.

After the game, the Warriors talked about how they weren’t familiar with this team, because they hadn’t really faced them. If Golden State didn’t know what they were up against before, they do now.