Skin. O’. The. Teeth.
The Golden State Warriors were battered, spent, and frustrated by the 2nd half of Game 5 in Toronto. Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors carried a 3-1 series lead into the contest on Monday night. Leonard would post a double-double as Nick Nurse’s squad engineered a late rally. Weakened by yet another crucial injury, the Warriors appeared dethroned as the 4th quarter clock ticked away.
Then, the resurrection occurred – brief as it could eventually prove to be.
Nurse may have unwittingly provided the spark. The Toronto skipper called time-out following a blaze of offense that appeared to leave the Warriors high and dry at the 3:05 mark. The coach’s reasoning was that the NBA removes extra time-outs from a team’s arsenal following the 3:00 mark, so there was value in taking the T/O while it was available to the club.
But a recharged Golden State came out of the huddle like a house afire, retaking the lead and holding-on grimly in a 106-105 win that allowed a dynasty to survive just 3 more days.
Or maybe, it’s the turning point that could allow a comeback NBA Finals triumph for the aristocrats.
After all, Game 6 will be at Oracle Arena in Oakland on Thursday.
Bookmakers aren’t about to make a disappointed, soul-searching, and multiple time-zone traveling Toronto Raptors team the favorite in this one.
NBA Finals: Did Warriors Get Pyrrhic Win in Game 5?
Everyone knew Kevin Durant was seriously injured in the postseason, but his injury woes were the kind that promised at least an attempted return at some point.
With Golden State on the brink of elimination, Durant chose to gut it out for Game 5 in Toronto. In what could have been a legendary performance, KD warmed-up quickly from the field in the 1st quarter and punished the Raptors with outside bombs.
Then, what was perhaps inevitable occurred. Durant stumbled after pivoting on an ordinary play, falling to the hardwood with the Achilles tendon in his leg having been ruptured in sickening fashion.
Spoiler – don’t watch if you’re on a full tummy.
A closer look at Kevin Durant's right leg injury: pic.twitter.com/XEHPIn9wnW
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 11, 2019
Nurse is probably secretly glad that the controversy over some of the Raptors fans cheering when Durant went down is distracting the media from asking endless questions about the ill-chosen time-out with 3 minutes left in Game 5.
Yes, the fans who cheered are trashy, especially since Durant wasn’t just hobbled. He’s out for the season and maybe for training camp, and definitely for the FIBA World Cup in summer.
But I’ll tell you something else about the Toronto crowd – they’re unlucky. In my experience, these so-called “ugly” fan incidents of cheering for injuries and mishaps are a matter of circumstances.
These things happen everywhere and in almost every sport outside of figure skating.
Suppose an NFL team – any NFL team – has a highly-unpopular starting QB who is a talk-radio scapegoat for all of the franchise’s problems. Suppose he’s got a young up-and-comer from a popular college program installed as a backup behind him on the depth chart. If the team is losing 21-7 and the starting QB goes down with any injury that does not appear life-threatening, a loud minority of hometown fans will begin to cheer, excited that the head coach will now be forced to play their guy.
Then, when the rookie backup QB fails to overcome the team-wide ills and looks just as lousy as the starter did, the people who had been excited about the starter’s injury usually get very drunk. Meanwhile the team captain or the HC lashes-out at the fans who cheered. But it would have happened under the same circumstances in, oh, I don’t know, exactly 31 other cities, or something like that.
Don’t hate on Toronto – or devalue the Raptors on the betting board – because of the few inebriated losers who celebrated an injured KD. No city should be defined by its lowest common denominator.
But the Canadian cagers might be just as unfortunate as their postseason-ticket buyers’ image in America.
Game 6 in Toronto would feel like no big deal. Traveling to face the Warriors – even without Durant – is a daunting task full of pressure. Golden State is a lone win away from forcing a rubber match and carrying a win streak back to the Big Smoke with them.
Betting Odds on Game 6 at Oracle Arena
Taking a quick look around our network of betting sites, the Golden State Warriors are firm – if not prohibitive – favorites to win the next battle on Thursday night in Oakland.
Stephen Curry and the Warriors are (-150) moneyline favorites and (-3) favorites against the point spread at BetOnline.
MyBookie’s lines are absolutely identical, even down to the (211) O/U total.
Bovada Sportsbook changes things up just a little bit with a (-140) line on Golden State to win. The Over/Under total is also (211 ½) at Bovada, a number that IMHO makes more sense than the slightly-lower totals at other NBA betting sites.
To handicap the best wager, it’s important to look at how Toronto has beaten Golden State at Oracle Arena already in the series. I’m not convinced the Warriors are a bad pick at (-140). But I think Toronto is likely to carry a lead into the 2nd half.
Handicapping Game 6 Between the Warriors and Raptors
Nurse’s strategy when the series began had to have involved taking advantage of Golden State while Boogie Cousins and Kevin Durant were missing.
At least half of the duo is back in action. Cousins isn’t 100% – he played 20 minutes and scored 14 points on Monday night – but we can expect the big man to contribute again in the Finals.
The Raptors, however, have found that a high-tempo game and crashing the boards is a good idea for the entire series, not just when Oakland superstars are missing. Toronto ground down their storied opponents at Oracle Arena on Friday night, forcing Steve Kerr to play Andrew Bogut in the paint for long stretches lest the defending champs lose the rebounding battle. Meanwhile, Leonard scored 36 points while power forward Serge Ibaka shone as a 2nd banana.
But the Warriors were cold from the field at key moments in Game 3 and Game 4, and it was obvious that Kerr had tweaked the club’s outside-to-inside game on Monday night. Open 3-point looks were common for Curry and other sharpshooters in the 1st half, and the points that Golden State put in the bank in the 1st and 2nd quarters helped to dampen the blow when Toronto went wild.
With the champs looking better in the passing game, more comfortable shooting – and hitting – from outside, and able to call on Cousins and Bogut on the inside, I’m liking the Warriors’ chances of forcing a Game 7. But it won’t come easy. And with a (+/- 3) point spread, there’s little room to line-forecast a tight Golden State win and come away with anything but a lucky outcome (for better or worse) ATS.
It’s the alternate lines – and eventually the live-betting odds – that interest me for Game 6.
Recommended Bets on Raptors at Warriors
The hosts’ offense could be like a time-bomb waiting to explode in Game 6. Toronto has proven me wrong about its ability to match-up 12-deep with Golden State, but I’m not convinced that the Warriors’ confidence with the basketball is hurting, and when the shooting is tuned-in the points come in bunches at Oracle Arena…that’s been a fact of life in the NBA for several years running.
A smooth-running Warrior offense is still likely to fall behind (slightly) against a spirited Raptor effort in the 1st half. I believe that Toronto will be anxious to bury the nightmare of Game 5, and will control the tempo in at least a good chunk of the opening 24 minutes.
But when shots start to fall for Golden State, and the fans get rowdy? At that point, the same tentativeness that plagued Thursday’s underdogs in Game 5 could rear its head again as an experienced group of champions rides the momentum and grabs turnovers.
Since the Warriors are likely to win with an unanswered run in the 3rd or 4th quarter, Toronto is the pick against MyBookie’s 1st-half point spread (Toronto +1 ½) while the Warriors’ moneyline is the pregame pick-to-win outright.
Don’t overlook the live-betting option, though. If Toronto pushes for a double-digit lead in the 2nd quarter, the current “favored” host’s odds could run into plus-payoff territory.
That’s a time to dunk on the bookmaker…and watch Golden State rage against that good night.