Five burning questions for Raptors-Warriors Game 6

By Jesse Reed
Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors staved off elimination with a gutty win over the Toronto Raptors Monday night. They’ll need to do it again in Game 6.

Game details: Here’s a look at the start time, television information, and odds for Thursday night’s Raptors-Warriors Game 6.

  • When: 9:00 p.m. EST
  • Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
  • TV: ABC
  • Betting Line: Golden State -2.5 / 211 points

The big picture: The championship rides on Game 6. The Raptors will claim their first-ever title with a road win at Oracle. The Warriors will stay alive for their run at a three-peat with a victory. The defending champs are once again shorthanded after the stunning Kevin Durant Achilles rupture in Game 5.

Looking ahead to this pivotal matchup, here are the five biggest questions we have.

Can Toronto withstand the initial rush?

The atmosphere at Oracle Thursday night is going to be electric. Warriors fans will inject their team with a ton of energy right off the bat. Then there’s the KD factor: Golden State is going to be playing for Durant in a big way in Game 6. With that in mind, it would be surprising if the defending champs didn’t quickly run up a lead in the first quarter.

How the Raptors react to this initial surge will have a lot to do with the outcome. So far in the postseason, they have been extremely poised in just about every situation they have encountered. If Golden State racks up an early double-digit lead and is pouring in threes, however, things could quickly spiral out of control.

Can Boogie keep the good vibes going?

Since returning to action following his first-round quad injury, DeMarcus Cousins has been unable to provide consistent production for the Warriors. Through five games, he has been a liability in three of them, and a spark of life in the other two.

Cousins was a big reason why the Warriors rallied and won Game 5. He provided a huge lift in the minutes immediately proceeding Durant’s injury, and finished with his highest-scoring output of the series (14 points). Another big night from Boogie is needed if the Warriors are going to keep this series alive.

Did Nick Nurse learn his lesson?

It’s been hard to find any fault with the Raptors rookie head coach this postseason. He has done an outstanding job of finding a rotation that works and has come up with defensive game plans to thwart his opponents. But with the championship on the line in Game 5, he blinked.

Nurse called a timeout right as Kawhi Leonard was in the middle of a legendary run in the fourth quarter. The Klaw had scored 10 straight points, helping Toronto gain a six-point lead. Following the timeout, Golden State rallied, outscoring the Raptors 9-2 the rest of the way. Time management and game management are huge keys to victory. For Toronto’s sake, hopefully Nurse learned his lesson.

Will the Splash Bros get hot?

It’s the last game at Oracle. No matter what happens next, the Golden State Warriors will never play another game in Oakland — the team moves to San Francisco next season. The last time Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson played at Oracle, they were unable to keep Toronto from going up 3-1. Thompson had a good shooting night but Curry had an awful game, going 9-22 from the field and 2-9 from three.

If the Warriors are going to keep the series alive tonight, both Splash Bros are going to need to step up with tremendous all-around games. They were the catalysts for Golden State’s fourth-quarter comeback on Monday night and will need to be that once more in Game 6.

Can Kawhi put an end to it all?

When the Raptors have been at their best, everyone plays well. However, so far this postseason, this team has relied on Kawhi Leonard to make the big shots in key moments. It appeared he was going to do it again in Game 5 late in the fourth quarter, but that run was halted by his coach. Leonard never regained his momentum, and the Raptors were unable to step on their opponent’s throat.

Given the charged atmosphere that will be prevalent at Oracle Thursday night, it stands to reason that the Raptors will need Leonard to once again take the game over late if they are going to win. He’s done it many times during the team’s NBA Finals run, but can he conjure the magic once more to keep the series from reaching seven games?