After dropping Game 1 of the NBA Finals with Toronto’s “supporting cast” being the headliners, Golden State looked to slow down players such as Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol in Sunday’s Game 2. Steve Kerr’s team did just that, with Siakam shooting 5-of-18 from the field and Gasol going 2-of-7. Add in some timely contributions from the likes of Quinn Cook, Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut, who needed to step forward as the Warriors lost two more rotation players due to injury, and Golden State managed to even the series at one game apiece with a 109-104 victory.
Klay Thompson was Golden State’s most productive scorer, as he tallied a team-high 25 points (10-of-17 FGs, 1-of-2 FTs) with five rebounds, five assists, one steal and four 3-pointers in 32 minutes. His hot start to the game, scoring the Warriors’ first 11 points, was critical as Stephen Curry got off to a slow start and briefly went to the locker room for an unspecified reason. Curry would return, finishing with 23 points, four assists, three rebounds, three steals and three 3-pointers, but he scored those points on 6-of-17 shooting from the field (8-of-9 free throws). Thompson could have threatened the 30-point mark, but he left the game early in the fourth quarter due to what was originally announced as left hamstring tightness. He did not return to the game, and afterwards Steve Kerr said that his star shooting guard suffered a pulled hamstring.
For his part Thompson (who will undergo an MRI on Monday when the team gets back to Oakland) said that he’s fine and expects to play in Wednesday’s Game 3 in Oakland, but hamstring injuries can be tricky. With Thompson out Shaun Livingston saw a slight increase in minutes, as he played 16 and was on the court down the stretch. The veteran guard shot 2-of-4 from the field and made both of his free throws, finishing with six points and three assists. Also stepping forward, even before Thompson went down with the injury, was Quinn Cook. After playing nine minutes in Game 1 Cook played 21 Sunday night, scoring nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from three with one rebound and one blocked shot.
Cook played 12.0 minutes per game in the Western Conference Finals, factoring into the Warriors perimeter rotation more than he did in either of the first two series (a total of 21 minutes played in two appearances vs. the Clippers and Rockets). Given how banged-up Golden State is at this point, Cook likely earned himself another look when the series resumes in Oakland.
As for the other injury suffered by a Warriors player, Kevon Looney (one rebound ten minutes) injured what the team declared to be a left chest contusion after taking a hard fall during the first half. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the injury was a sprained collarbone, which is certainly better than a break, and Looney was unable to return in the second half. He said after the game that he hopes to be able to play in Game 3. Looney will undergo an MRI and CT scan on Monday.
As a result of his absence Andrew Bogut was the first Golden State big off the bench in the second half, and he made all three of his field goal attempts. The veteran center finished with six points and one rebound in seven minutes, with Jonas Jerebko (two points and two rebounds in six minutes being the other interior player used. Jordan Bell, who started Game 1 but struggled in his 12 minutes on the floor, did not play in Game 2.
DeMarcus Cousins gets the start, plays 28 minutes
With Bell failing to have much of an impact in Game 1, Kerr made a change to the starting lineup ahead of Game 2. Cousins, who played eight minutes in his return from a torn quadriceps muscle suffered in Game 2 of the first round, was in the starting lineup. Cousins would ultimately play 28 minutes, scoring ten points (3-of-8 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs) while also accounting for ten rebounds, six assists, two blocked shots and one three-pointer. While there were some moments in which he looked out of sync, having Cousins on the court ultimately benefitted Golden State offensively. He didn’t do much scoring but the center’s presence on the court was something that Toronto had to account for, given his ability to distribute the basketball.
Four of the Warriors five starters dished out at least five assists, with Draymond Green’s nine helpers leading the way. Green fell one assist short of a triple-double, as he put up 17 points (6-of-12 FGs, 5-of-6 FTs), ten rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot in addition to the assist total. He did have a team-high five turnovers, but his overall impact on the game was a positive one. Iguodala, whose three-pointer with just over five seconds remaining sealed the win, added eight points (3-of-8 FGs), eight rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers in 28 minutes. The veteran wing, who has been dealing with a calf injury, played with a compression sleeve on his left calf and left the game after being on the receiving end of a hard screen. Iguodala would return, and his last shot ended a scoring drought of more than five minutes in length.
The quartet of Cousins, Thompson, Green and Iguodala are the first teammates to account for at least five points, five rebounds and five assists in the same NBA Finals game since Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Dave DeBusschere and Dick Barnett did so for the Knicks in 1970.
Cousins’ increased minutes also impacted Toronto’s starting center, Marc Gasol. After putting up a stat line of 20 points, seven rebounds, two steals, one assist, one blocked shot and two 3-pointers in Game 1, Gasol finished with just six points (2-of-7 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), six rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot in 31 minutes Sunday night. It wasn’t pretty, but to be fair to Gasol he wasn’t the only Raptors starter to struggle after playing well in Game 1.
Leonard led all scorers with 34 points, shooting 8-of-20 from the field and 16-of-16 from the foul line, to go along with 14 rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers in 39 minutes. He’s now scored 30 points or more in 12 of Toronto’s 20 postseason games, and he entered Game 2 with averages of 30.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.3 three -pointers per game on shooting splits of 50.1% from the field, 39.4% from three and 87.2% from the foul line. Leonard scored 23 in Game 1 but he had help, with Pascal Siakam scoring 32 points, Gasol 20 and Danny Green 11. But none of those three had good games Sunday and the same can be said for Kyle Lowry, who put up 13 points (4-of-11 FGs, 2-of-3 FTs), two assists, one rebounds, one steal and two 3-pointers in 28 minutes before fouling out.
Siakam had a rough night at the office, shooting 5-of-18 from the field and finishing with 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a team-high 41 minutes. The 12 points are the fewest he’s scored in a game since Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, when he scored seven in a win over Milwaukee. As for Green he shot 2-of-5 from three, scoring eight points with five rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers in 26 minutes of action. Overall the first two games of the NBA Finals (5-of-12 3-pointers) represented progress for Green, who was mired in a serious shooting slump during the conference finals. With the series headed west, Toronto will need consistent production from players other than Leonard if they’re to pick up a win and regain home-court advantage.
Fred VanVleet continues to produce off the bench
Since the birth of his son VanVleet has been highly productive off the bench for Toronto, and despite the field goal percentage that continued in Game 2. In 38 minutes he put up 17 points (7-of-17 FGs), four rebounds, three steals, two assists and two 3-pointers, extending his streak of double-digit scoring efforts to five straight games. And in his last ten games, not counting Sunday, VanVleet averaged 11.0 points, 5.1 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.7 blocks per game with shooting splits of 39.6% from the field, 38.3% from three and 88.9% from the foul line. Toronto once again went just eight players deep, with Norman Powell (two assists, one rebound, one steal and one three-pointer) and Serge Ibaka (ten rebounds, two steals and one three-pointer) scoring seven points apiece.
OG Anunoby was active for the game after missing a little less than two months of action after undergoing an emergency appendectomy, but he did not see any action.
Kevin Durant still working his way back from strained calf
As expected Durant (strained right calf) did not suit up for Game 2, as he has still yet to be cleared to return to practice. Ahead of Sunday’s game Warriors general manager Bob Myers discussed the status of the All-Star forward, saying that he needs to be able to get through a full practice before he’s able to return. According to NBC Sports Bay Area the Warriors will hold practices on Tuesday (ahead of Game 3) and Thursday (ahead of Game 4). Should he not be ready to resume playing this week, the next opportunity would be next Monday in Toronto (Game 5). Golden State certainly needs Durant back on the court, due to his ability to impact the game as a scorer and as a defender, but they can’t afford to have him rush back either.