Title: Raptor Recalibration, Game 3: VanVleet shadowing Curry, pick-and-roll depth, 50/40/90 and more
Date: June 6, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, my playoff day-after playoff column looked at the Raptors taking control of the NBA Finals back with a Game 3 victory against the Warriors.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Some 12 hours earlier and a world away at Ryogoku Sumo Hall, Will Ospreay was setting the example.
Shingo Takagi had rolled through the Best of Super Juniors 26 round robin flawlessly, continuing his undefeated streak since returning to New Japan Pro Wrestling. Opposite him in Wednesday morning’s final was Ospreay, the aerial assassin competing in his third tournament final in four years. By no definition is Ospreay, a two-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, an underdog in the classic sense. But the Last of the Dragon was no ordinary opponent.
The Raptors entered the NBA Finals as moderate underdogs, given about a 30 percent implied probability based on Vegas odds. By no definition is a team employing perhaps the best player in the world in Kawhi Leonard, one who just defeated the league’s best regular season team and another very good team before that, an underdog in the classic sense. But the Warriors are not ordinary, armed with multiple Hall of Famers and, while not undefeated, nearly unassailable over the last half-decade.
Maybe we can take it back even further and include Andy Ruiz Jr. It’s been a week for fighting from underneath.
The Raptors are still there, fighting from underneath. While the history of teams taking 2-1 leads in the NBA Finals is strong precedent and the Raptors could play two more at home, they remain slight underdogs for the series, it’s just inched closer to 50-50. A babyface fire has been lit against a wounded Goliath, and while there’s a long distance still to go the Raptors are halfway there.