NBA Finals: Burning questions for Warriors-Raptors Game 2

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Following Toronto’s impressive Game 1 win Thursday night, Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors look to take a stranglehold on the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.

Game details: Here’s a look at the start time, television information, and odds for Sunday night’s Raptors-Warriors Game 2.

  • When: 8:00 p.m. EST
  • Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
  • TV: ABC
  • Betting Line: Toronto -2 / 215 points

The Big picture: Golden State can afford to fall down 2-0. We’ve seen the team run off impressive win streaks with their backs against the wall in the past. Even then, a Toronto win on Sunday night would certainly put Kawhi Leonard and Co. in the driver’s seat as the series heads to Oakland for Game 3.

Here, we check in on the biggest questions heading into Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals.

Who will start at center for Golden State?

Jordan Bell got the start in the series opener, going for just two points in 12 minutes of action. Golden State was minus-four in his short time on the court. Meanwhile, Kevon Looney contributed nine points and three rebounds in 28 minutes.

Though, it was DeMarcus Cousins’ return to action after having been out since Game 2 of the first round that was the talk here. The stats (three points, two assists, two steals) didn’t do him justice. Cousins was the Warriors’ best big in Game 1. Does this mean he’ll get the start Sunday evening?

How will Warriors adjust to Pascal Siakam?

Whether it was Andre Iguodala or Draymond Green guarding Siakam in the series opener, this young forward was in full-scale kill mode. At one point, Siakam made 11 consecutive shots. He finished with 32 points (second to only Stephen Curry) on 14-of-17 shooting. Siakam also grabbed eight rebounds and dished out five assists.

It goes without saying that Golden State will have to adjust in Game 2. We could even see Klay Thompson on Siakam with the combination of Green and Iguodala going up against Kawhi Leonard. Either way we spin it, adjustments are in store for Steve Kerr and Co.

Can the Warriors find that third scorer?

With Kevin Durant ruled out for Game 2, it now becomes imperative that the Warriors find a third scorer behind the Splash Brothers. Curry and Thompson combined for 55 points. Draymond Green (10 points) was the only other member of the Warriors in double digits.

Green himself could be more aggressive. It’s something we saw during the Western Conference Finals when he averaged a robust 16.5 points. Should Cousins actually get the start at center, he’s another option to help fill the Durant void. After all, here’s a dude that averaged north of 26 points in the two seasons prior to joining Golden State.

Can Marc Gasol continue brilliant play?

Gasol’s struggles in the Eastern Conference Finals were well noted heading into the championship round. He shot just 30% from the field and was nowhere near the elite defender that we saw during the All-Star’s days in Memphis.

This changed big time Thursday evening. Gasol dropped 20 points and grabbed seven boards while seeing Toronto outscore Golden State by eight points in the 30 minutes of action he saw. He also played tremendous defense in helping against Curry. Gasol will have to continue at this level if the Raptors want to avoid losing home court on Sunday.

How will the game be called?

Thursday night saw officials let defenders get away with physical play. In particular, Toronto grabbed at Stephen Curry throughout the game. While the two-time MVP did take 14 free throws, a lot of fouls were left uncalled.

We will see early on Sunday whether officials continue with this theme. The Raptors are trying to get away with stuff against Curry. It worked to perfection in Game 1. If that’s not the case in the second game, it could impact the outcome in a big way.

Will Kyle Lowry respond?

While Lowry’s Game 1 performance didn’t harm the Raptors in a big way, he must step up Sunday evening. The All-Star score just seven points on 2-of-9 shooting and turned the ball over three times. Toronto was able to overcome this, in part, due to the play of Siakam and Gasol.

We fully expect Golden State to change up their defensive scheme against the two. That could lead to open shots for Lowry, who has proven to be a weak link from the perimeter. If so, he’s going to have to hit those shots for Toronto to take a 2-0 series lead.