In First NBA Finals Game In Team History, Raptors Beat Warriors, 118-109, To Take 1-0 Series Lead

There was no indication that the first NBA Finals game in franchise history was weighing on the minds of the Toronto Raptors.

The hosts forcefully introduced themselves to the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, launching a barrage of early three-pointers and cranking up the defensive pressure against Stephen Curry. By night’s end, the Raptors had claimed a dream opener, dictating the action throughout to defeat the defending champions, 118-109.

“We’re vulnerable like everybody else,” Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said before the game, words that proved prophetic.

For the first time since Kevin Durant was lost to injury in the second round of the playoffs, the Warriors looked like an incomplete team.

Toronto’s half-court defense smothered Golden State’s offense, hanging tight with Curry, denying clean looks at the rim and forcing 10 first-half turnovers. Center DeMarcus Cousins returned to the lineup after missing the previous two rounds with a leg injury, but he struggled to move defensively and scored just three points.

“Their defense was great, and it wasn’t our best night,” Kerr said afterwards. “We just got outplayed.”

After a Western Conference finals in which they enjoyed oceans of space and played at light speed, the Warriors laboured through half-court possessions and never got out much in the open court.

Raptors Coach Nick Nurse promised that his pregame speech would be centred on transition defense, and his words landed. The Warriors managed just 17 fast-break points, many coming in a futile late flourish, and never seized control of the game flow.

Curry did his best to force the issue, scoring a game-high 34 points and getting to the foul line 14 times, but the balance around him was lacking.

Only three Golden State players scored in double figures — Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — as Toronto’s scrambling help defenders did well to cover for each other.