Title: Deep Dive Series Preview: How do the Raptors and Warriors matchup? A study of playing styles, rotations and more
Date: May 29, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I performed a deep dive into the lineups, rotations, key matchups, playing styles and more for the NBA Finals between the Raptors and Warriors.
The Golden State Warriors are the NBA’s best offence, maybe ever. The Toronto Raptors might be the NBA’s best defence, and they might be the best defence this Warriors dynasty has gone head-to-head with.
The NBA Finals will play out in more complex fashion than the irresistible force, immovable object trope, but it’s a heck of a good way to set the scene: In the modern NBA, where 3-point shooting and pace rule the discourse, can a grimy, switchy defence ward off a seemingly inevitable supernova? If the Raptors can answer in the affirmative, they’ll have their first NBA championship. If not, the Warriors will cement themselves among the greatest dynasties in all of modern sports, winning a fourth title over five consecutive NBA Finals appearances.
Which of those outcomes you think plays out likely comes down to how much faith you put into a team’s ability to “flip the switch,” as it were. The Warriors were good all season. They weren’t ethering teams like they had in the past, though, and their net rating over the first three rounds was the lowest it’s been in this half-decade run. Their offence remains elite – best in the league in the regular season and playoffs – and they possess dramatic comeback and pull-away speed, rendering no lead safe. The Raptors are more straightforward, at least since Kawhi Leonard became an everyday player. Their offence might ebb and flow based on the quality of the shooting around him, but he is a two-way constant, carrying a heavy burden on one end, anchoring a dangerous defence at the other and in the process providing the Raptors with a substantial floor to operate from. Toronto’s path was more arduous and less assured, and while there’s a toll of fatigue that comes with more difficult series victories, they’ve managed to steadily improve.
All told, the NBA Finals are pitting the best team in the league against a very worthy opponent.