The Toronto Raptors escaped Oakland with two consecutive NBA Finals victories, and are now just a win away from their first title. Toronto pulled out a 105-92 win over the Golden State Warriors Friday night to take a commanding 3-1 lead over the defending champions.
Kawhi Leonard was the star of the night. His teammates played great basketball, but the quiet superstar showed out with perhaps his greatest Finals performance yet. He put up 36 points on 11-for-22 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds. Serge Ibaka had perhaps his best Finals performance as well. He finished with 20 points on 9-for12 shooting.
Thompson was the star of the night for Golden State, proving his value to the dynasty. He had 21 and 25 points in his first two games of the Finals before missing Game 3 with a hamstring injury. He followed up the first two performances with a phenomenal 28 point outing in Game 4. Stephen Curry was unable to follow up his outstanding 47-point performance, managing “just” 27 points.
Both teams got off to a lackluster start, missing shots left and right. Danny Green followed up his stunning Game 3 performance by starting the game 0-3 from 3-point range and 0-for-4 overall. In fact, the Raptors finished the first quarter shooting an abysmal 2-for-12 from beyond the arc. Leonard was the only highlight of the first period, keeping the Raptors in the contest thanks to a 5-for-8 outing. The rest of Toronto’s starters went 1-for-13.
The Warriors warmed up to end the quarter, going on a quick 10-2 run with just a few minutes left. Leonard was able to neutralize the run, hitting a triple and notching a couple more buckets before the buzzer.
The Warriors were able to take a 23-17 lead into the second quarter.
Ibaka put the team on his back to start the quarter, scoring the first six points for Toronto to cut the Golden State lead to just 4 points. The Warriors started to wake up, with Thompson, Curry, and Draymond Green all hitting shots down the stretch.
Though it felt like the Warriors were pulling away as Thompson got hot, Leonard and Pascal Siakam were able to keep Toronto afloat throughout the period. The Raptors kept chipping away until they found themselves down just 4 points at halftime, 46-42.
Leonard and Thompson both led their respective teams with 14 points each. Kyle Lowry, Ibaka, Curry and the injured Looney all had 8 points in the half.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 8, 2019
Third Quarter Offensive Explosion
Leonard hit back-to-back triples to start the half to give Toronto their first lead, 48-46. Curry quickly responded with his first 3-pointer after starting 0-for-5 to reclaim the lead. Marc Gasol answered on an assist from Leonard, adding to the hot start for both teams.
The Warriors responded with a Thompson jumper and an Andre Iguodala slam to take a 53-50 lead.
The Raptors responded with a deep triple from Fred VanVleet and a driving and-one 3-point play from Siakam to take a slime 56-55 lead. Thompson quickly halted the mini-run with yet another triple for his 19th point of the game on 8-for-12 shooting.
Coming out of a timeout, Thompson air-balled a 3-pointer, but followed it up with a nothing-but-net triple to give the Warriors a 61-59 lead, adding to his great performance in the process.
Ibaka gave Toronto the lead back when he blocked Looney on one end of the floor and drained a 3-pointer on the other in a wild turn of events. Draymond Green got called for a technical late in the quarter, leading to a quick 3-point spurt from Leonard to give the Raptors a 67-63 lead with just two minutes left in the third.
The Raptors kept their foot on the gas as Ibaka knocked down two more shots to give Toronto a 73-64 lead. The shot-blocker showed off his offensive prowess with 15 points through the third quarter.
Leonard put the icing on the cake with just 40 seconds left, drilling an open jumper. Only Leonard could quietly score 17 points in a single period, and he did just that.
With a commanding 3-1 lead on the line, Toronto took a 79-67 lead into the final quarter on the road in Oakland.
17 PTS in Q3 for Kawhi Leonard! 🔥🖐️
— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) June 8, 2019
VanVleet opened the quarter with a 3-pointer to give Toronto a 15-point lead with Leonard on the bench. Thompson responded with a triple of his own to notch his 25th point of the night.
With 9:35 left in the game, VanVleet caught an accidental elbow from Shaun Livingston. Blood poured down his cheek, under his right eye while he was down on the floor. He immediately left the contest.
VanVleet would later return to the bench after receiving seven stitches in his face. He was not concussed on the play.
Oh man. Livingston accidentally CRUSHED VanVleet in the face with his left elbow. Good amount of blood pic.twitter.com/R1vLB5BQk2
— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) June 8, 2019
Toronto’s depth proved too much for a hobbled Golden State squad down the stretch. Ibaka continued his great outing, notching his highest playoff scoring mark of 2019. Leonard kept the gas pedal all the way down, taking over the fourth in a similar fashion to the third.
Danny Green was finally able to notch a 3-pointer with 7:19 left in the contest, his first make of the night. He was 0-for-6 on the night previously. The shot extended the Toronto lead back to 15 points.
The Warriors were never able to overcome the deficit, despite throwing everything they had at the Raptors. They cut the lead to as little as eight with under three minutes but never got back into the game.
The Warriors now face a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals for the first time in the past five seasons.
Up Next in the NBA Finals
The 2019 NBA Finals will shift back to Toronto on Monday for a pivotal Game 5. Tipoff is scheduled for June 10th at 9 p.m. ET on ABC at Scotiabank Arena.
View the original article on Last Word On Pro Basketball: NBA Finals Game 4 Recap: Toronto Raptors Take Commanding 3-1 Lead