TORONTO, Canada – Golden State may have dropped Game 1 of the NBA Finals for the first time, but Steph Curry and the Warriors aren’t exactly worried.
With Toronto forward Pascal Siakam erupting for 32 points, the defending champions couldn’t get it going against the upstart Raptors and yielded a 118-109 decision in the series opener on Thursday, May 30 (Friday, May 31, Philippine time).
“Obviously the bad is we’re down 0- 1 but it’s not the end of the world,” said Curry, who led the Warriors with a game-high 34 points.
“New experiences for us all the way through, but we have proven our resiliency and ability to win games that we need to, and kind of answer the bell and learn from nights like tonight.”
In their 4 previous Finals, the Warriors never lost Game 1 against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“Well, their defense was great and it wasn’t our best night, but we just got outplayed, so simple as that,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
Hitting shots everywhere
The Warriors are vying for their third title in a row and fourth in 5 seasons while the Raptors are in the first NBA Finals in their 24-season history.
But the Raptors came out looking like the hungrier team with the 25-year-old Cameroonian Siakam making 14-of-17 shots from the floor and Kawhi Leonard adding 23 points as both players also pulled down 8 rebounds and passed out 5 assists.
“For me it was just running and whatever basket I can get at the rim,” Siakam said. “Getting some easy buckets in transition, something I haven’t really been able to do all playoffs.”
Siakam scored the most points in an NBA Finals debut since injured Golden State star Kevin Durant in 2012, and he was the most accurate-shooting 30-point scorer in the finals since Shaquille O’Neal in 2004.
“Siakam was brilliant. He was hitting shots from everywhere,” Kerr said.
“Our transition defense was just awful and that’s the number one priority when you play Toronto,” he added. “We gave up 24 fastbreak points, we turned it over 17 times. So that’s the game, really.”
Block out the noise
With the Warriors absorbing their first loss in a playoff series opener after 12 consecutive Game 1 wins, the Raptors are bracing for a fightback.
“We’re playing an amazing team,” Siakam said. “They’re the champions and we’ve just got to be ready. We won Game 1. We were very aggressive on defense and tried to make it tough for players to find open shots.
“But they’re going to come out and make adjustments and we’ve got to be ready for that.”
And the Warriors, too, pretty much feel they can easily equalize in Game 2 on Sunday, June 2 (Monday, June 3, Philippine time).
“I know we’ll respond like the champions we are,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. “We got some tape now and we’ll go to the drawing board and we’ll come back and be much better on Sunday.”
“They obviously played well, but our confidence remains the same,” said Curry. “Block out all the noise about how, you know, what these are firsts and this and that and kind of the doubt around our team. It’s just come out and play hard, get Game 2, and take it from there.”
“So I like the vibe,” Curry added. “I say it a lot but I like the vibe that we have in the locker room in terms of everybody focusing on what they need to do differently and the overall energy bump that we need to have and then go steal Game 2.” – With a report from Agence France-Presse