Draymond on Boogie’s return: ‘like …one day you just got dropped in the ‘hood and was told to survive.’

2019 NBA Finals: How Warriors should use DeMarcus Cousins vs. Raptors

Monte Poole | NBC SPORTS 

TORONTO – It has become apparent that the Warriors have a crucial decision to make and that they’ll have to proceed with extreme skill throughout the process.

What to do with DeMarcus Cousins, who will be active for Game 1 of the NBA Finals?

Cousins was the starting center until he went down with a torn left quadriceps muscle on April 15 in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Six weeks later, with the NBA Finals on deck, he says he’s “healed for the most part” and clearly is anxious to play.

Coach Steve Kerr says Boogie is pain-free but also that many other factors must be weighed before reaching a decision on when and how to use the most skilled center on the roster.

“If this were the regular season, I would throw him out there and he would play whatever minutes he could tolerate and we would build him up from there,” Kerr said Wednesday. “This is not the regular season.

“This is The Finals, so we have to figure out what’s the best way to utilize him, how many minutes can he play, what the game feels like, what the matchups are like. Some of that will be determined by what’s happening in the game, and the other stuff is just internal with our staff.”

It would be risky to put Cousins in the starting lineup immediately after such a long layoff. It might be risky, with so much on the line, to put Cousins on the floor at all.

But it would be a waste of his gifts to restrict him to the bench and lean solely on the centers utilized in his absence. Kerr has manned the position with five different players, from Andrew Bogut and Kevon Looney, to Jordan Bell and Damian Jones, with Draymond Green also sliding over from power forward.

Nobody on the team is closer to Cousins than is Green, who acknowledged that Boogie would have a lot to overcome.

“A huuuuuge challenge,” he said. “When you talk about DeMarcus, he’s someone who’s been great in this league for years now. He’s probably not played basketball what, 16 out of the last 19 months, so that right there alone is a challenge in itself. Then you start to talk playoff experience, where you and I both know the intensity level is completely different than a regular-season game, and he doesn’t have much playoff experience. And then you get dropped in the NBA Finals?

“It’s kind of like some kid who grew up in the suburbs going to private school and then one day you just got dropped in the ‘hood and was told to survive. You got to figure that out. It’s very similar to that.”

An important part of the equation is Cousins’ desire to play. He’s rehabbing regularly in an effort to participate in a Finals for the first time in his eight-year career. If it were up to him, he’d be on the court for the opening tip Thursday night.

“That’s the thing, it’s never really up to me,” he said. “We’ll put our heads together and come up with the best plan moving forward.”

Asked about his readiness, Cousins was honest as usual.

”That’s hard to determine with most athletes,” he said. “We’re stubborn. We’re bullheaded. We feel like we can fight through anything. And that’s not always the best case for the individual. So obviously we’ll come together and figure out the best plan for me.”

The best plan, at least at the start, would seem to be playing Cousins off the bench. Evaluate his rhythm and fitness level in game conditions. If he is effective, stay with that plan. If he is not, have a chat with the big man.

Which brings us back to Green’s “suburban kid in the ‘hood” analogy.

“You just revert to what you know. You do whatever it is that you know,” Green said. “You just try to do that to survive. Well, one thing we do know is DeMarcus is a great basketball player. So, at that point then you just go out there and you do what you’re great at. And everything else will fall in line.

“But I think it’s also on us,” Green added. “You know that kid has a much better chance of surviving if he gets with the right group of friends in that neighborhood. It’s on us as his teammates to help pull him through, to get whatever we can out of him to help make us a better team and do whatever we can to put him in the best position to be successful.”

The Raptors are going to start Marc Gasol at center. He’s 7-foot-1, 260 pounds. Cousins is a reasonable physical matchup. So, too, is Bogut.

Yet no Warriors center has been more effective this postseason than Looney, who is four inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter than Gasol.

Now that Cousins is physically cleared, he has to play. He should play. He must play.

But his every move should be studied. If he’s productive, exhale and enjoy. If he’s not, well, there are five other options.

Source

NBA FINALS • GAME 1 • WARRIORS vs. RAPTORS • GAMEDAY • May 30th 2019

SportsLine

Raptors take NBA Finals opener, beat Warriors 118-109

Associated Press

TORONTO — The first NBA Finals game outside the U.S. was a party 24 years in the making.

Then Pascal Siakam and the Raptors really gave Toronto something to celebrate.

Siakam scored a playoff career-high 32 points and the Raptors made a smashing NBA Finals debut, beating the Golden State Warriors118-109 on Thursday night.

The Raptors hardly looked like newcomers to the NBA’s biggest stage, controlling the action most of the way against a Golden State team beginning its fifth straight NBA Finals appearance.

“I think we did pretty good job at home,” Siakam said. “The fans are amazing, man. I just want to say that. From coming out for warmup to the end of the game, it was just the support and then going crazy. I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Kawhi Leonard added 23 points and Marc Gasol had 20 for the Raptors, who weren’t in awe of the setting or their opponents who had played 22 NBA Finals games in the last four years.

“We know that they’re human. They’re a great basketball team, talented players, high basketball-IQ players,” Leonard said. “You just got to go out there and compete, take the challenge.”

Stephen Curry scored 34 points and Klay Thompson had 21 for the Warriors, who had won all four Game 1s in the last four years. All those had come at home, but this time Golden State doesn’t have home-court — or home country — advantage.

“Our goal was to get one and it’s still on the table for us,” Thompson said. “So I know we’ll respond like the champions we are.”

Game 2 is Sunday night in Toronto, which is hosting an NBA Finals game for the first time after the Raptors entered the league as an expansion team in 1995.

The Raptors were perhaps a little jittery at the start, with Kyle Lowryfiring a pass well out of bounds on their first possession.

But they quickly settled in afterward, building a 10-point lead by halftime.

Siakam then went 6 for 6 in the third quarter to keep Golden State from gaining much ground, and the Raptors kept their lead around double digits for much of the final quarter, countering every attempt the Warriors made to catch up.

“We didn’t play very well tonight at all and we still had a chance the entire game,” Draymond Green said. “And it was a great atmosphere. This is a team or a city, a country, that hasn’t seen a finals ever here, so we expected it to be a great atmosphere and it was. But we can still play better and I know we will.”

All four of the Warriors’ previous finals were against LeBron Jamesand the Cleveland Cavaliers, and they struggled to figure out a new opponent. Toronto shot 50.6 percent from the field and the Warriors never found an answer for Siakam, the finalist for Most Improved Player who has a nice start for an NBA Finals MVP resume.

The native of Cameroon and nicknamed Spicy P was red hot, shooting 14 for 17 from the field — and he tipped in his own shot on the last of those misses with 54 seconds to play.

Fans began arriving at Jurassic Park outside the arena in the morning. There were lengthy lines at the arena entrances hours before the game, with some of the few fans who weren’t wearing Raptors red sticking to their original purple uniform with the dinosaur logo.

Rapper and Raptors global ambassador Drake sat in his courtside seat wearing a Curry No. 30 jersey. That’s Dell Curry, Stephen’s father who finished his career with the Raptors.

The Raptors introduced Dell Curry and some of their other former players after the first quarter, a group that included perennial All-Stars such as Tracy McGrady and Chris Bosh.

But it wasn’t until they got Leonard in a trade with San Antonio that Toronto was finally good enough to get to the NBA Finals.

He wasn’t the dominant force he was in the first three rounds, when he averaged 31.2 points. But he had eight rebounds and five assists in his first NBA Finals game since winning MVP of the 2014 championship with the Spurs.

DeMarcus Cousins made it back from a torn left quadriceps to come off the bench in his first NBA Finals game, but the Warriors remained without Kevin Durant, the MVP of the last two NBA Finals. He traveled to Toronto but it’s unclear if he’ll play before the series returns to the Bay Area, with Warriors coach Steve Kerr saying he would have to go through a practice first.

The Warriors had won every game since he got hurt in the second round but sure missed him against the Raptors, who are on a roll after falling behind 2-0 to Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference finals.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Cousins finished with three points in eight minutes. … Green had his fifth triple-double of the postseason with 10 points, 10 rebounds and assists, but shot just 2 for 9. … Golden State had a 12-game winning streak in Game 1s snapped. … Curry’s four 3-pointers gave him a record 102 in the NBA Finals and he was also 14 for 14 from the free throw line.

Raptors: Danny Green went 3 for 7 from 2-point range after he was just 4 for 23 in the conference finals. … The Raptors improved to just 4-15 in Game 1s.

DRAKE AND DRAYMOND

Green and Drake exchanged words at the end of the game, but the Warriors shot down a suggestion it was more than that.

“It wasn’t really a scuffle because I didn’t hit him and he didn’t hit me, and I didn’t push him and he didn’t push me,” Green said. “We talked. We barked a little bit, but I wouldn’t necessarily consider that a scuffle, not really what I personally would consider a scuffle.”

UP NEXT

Game 2 is Sunday night.

2019 NBA Finals Eve Miscellany Buffet (Keep Checking Back In – Fresh Servings Added All Day!)

2019 NBA Finals Eve Miscellany Buffet • Odds & Ends From Around The League Leading Up To Tip-Off On Thursday

(Come back or refresh this page every so often as it will have new items added throughout the day — and please feel free to make any suggestions below if you’d like to…)

“OKAY — WHO YA GOT ???

THE MATCHUP:

MUCH DESPISED “SUPERTEAM” CHAMPIONS VS. … NEARLY TWO WHOLE COUNTRIES?

Defending a dynasty. Will KD return and they be at full strength? How does Boogie fit in this situation? Does it really matter for the champs to three-peat?

Kawhi Leonard was just what Toronto needed to finally get to compete at the highest level… he brings championship experience and has galvanized not just his team, but an entire nation…

Is this his — and Canada’s — shining hour?

Or will the champions, led by the NBA’s only unanimous MVP – remind everyone why the word “dynasty” isn’t to be taken lightly – and secure their position even more deeply into NBA history than it is already?

Time to find out…

May 29, 2019 NBA Finals Media Availability | Full Pregame Interviews (as listed) – Game 1 | Warriors vs Raptors ….

We didn’t talk about Kawhi Leonard: Steve Kerr explains Gregg Popovich dinner | The Jump…

Steve Kerr joins Rachel Nichols and Tracy McGrady ahead of the Golden State Warriors vs. Toronto Raptors matchup in the 2019 NBA Finals, talking about playing the series in Toronto after four straight years facing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, what was said at the Gregg Popovich dinner and whether Kawhi Leonard came up, how he’s planning for DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins’ return, how he’s planning for Kevin Durant’s return, and more.

‘I just wanted to make that team so badly’ – Klay Thompson describes All-NBA snub | The Jump…

Klay Thompson joins Rachel Nichols and Tracy McGrady ahead of the Golden State Warriors vs. Toronto Raptors matchup in the 2019 NBA Finals, discussing his feelings when Kevin Durant went down due to injury; how he and Stephen Curry, among others, replaced the production of KD; not making the 2019 All-NBA team; defending Kawhi Leonard; finally making the All-Defensive team; and more.

Tracy McGrady tells Kyle Lowry what he likes so much about his game | The Jump…

Kyle Lowry joins Rachel Nichols and Tracy McGrady ahead of the Golden State Warriors vs. Toronto Raptors matchup in the 2019 NBA Finals, talking about his role in the playoffs, playing with Kawhi Leonard, his relationship with Masai Ujiri and DeMar DeRozan since the trade to the San Antonio Spurs, and more. He also hears T-Mac’s thoughts on Lowry’s development since they played together in Toronto years earlier.

Ranking the players in Warriors vs. Raptors: Is Kawhi No. 1? Where is the next Raptor? | The Jump…

Rachel Nichols, Ramona Shelburne and Richard Jefferson preview the Golden State Warriors vs. Toronto Raptors 2019 NBA Finals matchup, and discuss whether the Warriors are a good bet at -300 to win the series. They also discuss the player rankings in the series, with Kawhi Leonard coming out on top, but Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and possibly even Andre Iguodala appearing ahead of the next Raptor.

Can Draymond Green keep his cool vs. the Raptors, Drake in the NBA Finals? | Jalen & Jacoby…

Jalen Rose lists his keys to Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors, and wonders if Draymond Green can avoid a crucial ejection with the courtside antics of Drake or the physicality of players like Serge Ibaka.

Draymond, Warriors won’t stand for Drake’s shenanigans, Kevin Durant out for Game 1 | SC with SVP…

Nick Friedell joins Scott Van Pelt to share how the Golden State Warriors plan to deal with Drake during the NBA Finals and gives the latest on Kevin Durant’s injury.

The White Jacket • NBA FINALS REFEREES… better live up to it and do their jobs right!

It’s the ultimate symbol of achievement for an NBA referee: The white jacket bestowed upon the select group of officials chosen to work the NBA Finals. Hear what referees past and present have to say about the honor.