The Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors 105-92 in Game 4 of the NBA Finals to take a 3-1 series lead and move within one game of winning their first-ever NBA Championship.
The Warriors played without All-Star Kevin Durant, who missed his ninth-straight game since injuring his calf in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Houston Rockets.
However, the Warriors had Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney back in the line up but they were not enough to overcome Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors.
Leonard finished with a game-high 36 points and 12 rebounds for the Raptors. Pascal Siakam added 14 points, while Serge Ibaka came off the bench to score 20 points
The Splash Brothers combined for 55 points. After sitting out Game 3 with a hamstring injury, Thompson led the Warriors with 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting. Steph Curry scored 27, but had a rough night shooting 9-for-22 including 2-for-9 from three-point range.
Looney got cleared to play before game time. The Warriors backup center scored 10 points off the bench. Aside from Draymond Green’s 10 points, Looney was the only other Warrior to score in double-digits.
Weird Start, Kawhi Microwave
The Raptors got off to a weird start and scored only five points in the first six minutes of the game. The Warriors built up an 11-point lead. When Kawhi Leonard finally got rolling, the Warriors couldn’t contain him. He finished the first quarter with 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting.
The rest of the Raptors scored 3 points in the first quarter (Lowry with 2 points and Siakam with just 1 point) and shot 1-for-13 from the floor.
“I knew I had faith that it was going to turn around for us,” said Kawhi Leonard. “We were missing a lot of wide-open shots.”
In the second quarter, Ibaka came off the bench to score 8 points for a much-needed boost. Raptors clawed back and chipped away at the lead without Leonard scoring a single point in the second quarter. They cut the Warriors lead to only four points.
Klay Thompson left the Warriors with 14 points in the first half, while Looney came off the bench to hit four of his first five shots.
The Raptors scored first 6 points of the second half as both teams swapped mini-runs to start the third quarter. Kawhi Leonard exploded for 17 of the Raptors 37 points in the third quarter. He single-highhandedly took the game, and possibly the championship, away from the Warriors.
“Kawhi Leonard came out and hit two big F-you shots to start the half,” said Raptors guard Fred VanVleet. “There’s no defense for that. There’s no schemes for that.”
Steph Curry went cold (1-for-8 from downtown through three quarters) and the Warriors hit a severe scoring drought late in the third quarter and the Raptors extended their lead to double-digits. Despite a couple of valiant attempts for a counterattack, the Warriors could never recover.
Curry finished with 27 points on 2-for-9 from beyond the arc. He did look anything like the guy who dropped 47 points in Game 3.
Draymond Green missed a triple-double by a single rebound. He finished with 10 points, 12 assists, and 9 rebounds.
Meanwhile, the Warriors desperately needed offense from someone other than the Splash Brothers. Andre Iguodala and Boogie Cousins combined for 9 points. The Warriors bench scored only 18 points including 10 from a banged-up Looney.
On Deck: Game 5 in Toronto
The Raptors host Game 5 on Monday evening back home in Toronto in front of a frenzied nation and their superfan, a child actor who played Jimmy on “Degrassi: The Next Generation.”
The Warriors are on the verge of elimination down 3-1, while the Raptors are one game away from the NBA championship.
“It’s not over,” said Steph Curry. “It’s not a good feeling right now, obviously. We’ve been on both sides of it and for us it’s an opportunity to flip this whole series on its head.”
“We’ve won three games, it’s the first to four,” said Raptors guard Kyle Lowry. “We understand that they’re the defending champs and they’re not going to go out easy. They’re going to come and fight and prepare to play the next game.”
The Warriors have their backs against a wall, but a glimmer of hope with the possibility of Kevin Durant playing in Game 5. However, the consensus from oddsmakers is that the Raptors are a 3-point favorite at home.
“I’ve been on the wrong side of 3-1 before,” said Draymond Green. “Why not make our own history?