Andre Iguodala didn’t think twice about letting an open 3-pointer fly.
The 2015 NBA Finals MVP nailed a dagger 3-pointer at the end of Game 2 to cap off a tremendous second half by the defending champion Golden State Warriors to level the NBA Finals 1-1. As the series shifts to Oakland, the Warriors’ ancillary players have re-discovered their form.
Iguodala, who hit two 3-pointers in Game 2 after shooting 0-for-4 from behind the arc in Game 1, was obviously the hero with his game-clinching shot, but almost all of Golden State’s non-Splash Brothers stepped up Sunday.
DeMarcus Cousins, who played just eight minutes in Game 1, finished with a double-double after getting the start for Golden State. Draymond Green, who finished with a triple-double in Game 1 but took just nine shots, was more aggressive in Game 2. He finished with 17 points on 12 attempts, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
Quinn Cook drained three 3-pointers in key situations to help stave off Toronto’s comeback, while Andrew Bogut, who was acquired late in the season, made contributions on both ends of the floor as Cousins faced foul trouble and Kevon Looney went down with an injury.
Here’s how all these players combined to perform in Game 1 and Game 2.
|Game 1 (118-109 loss)||25||7-for-22||1-for-9||16||20|
|Game 2 (109-104 win)||51||18-for-37||6-for-14||30||21|
Klay Thompson and Steph Curry were also better in Game 2, particularly the former.
Thompson started off hot, shooting 7-for-10 from the floor in the first half, but he suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter and didn’t return. Luckily for the Warriors, the star guard says he expects to play in Game 3.
Curry began Game 2 ice cold, starting 0-for-6 before heating up late in the second quarter to bring Golden State within five at halftime. He scored 12 points in the final 3:53 of the first half, including two free throws at the end of the second quarter.
With the way the Warriors closed out the half, a dominant third quarter run seemed inevitable.
The Warriors had an 18-0 stretch to start the second half, with Thompson and Golden State’s supporting cast leading the way.
Golden State eventually scored 34 points in the third quarter to turn a five-point deficit into an eight-point lead heading into the decisive final frame.
Even after all of this, the Raptors still had a chance to go up 2-0 thanks to an unconventional strategy.
Toronto Head Coach Nick Nurse deployed a box-and-1 to close the fourth quarter with the Raptors down 12. In this unique defense, four defenders form a “box” in the middle of the floor while one defender tracks an individual player. In this case, that player was Curry.
The strategy worked to perfection.
Golden State didn’t score for the rest of the game until Iguodala’s fateful shot. Unfortunately for the Raptors, they didn’t score much either.
Toronto missed six shots on seven attempts during this stretch before Kawhi Leonard hit a technical free throw and two foul shots to cut Golden State’s lead to 106-101. Danny Green followed that up with a dramatic triple before Iguodala’s dagger ended Toronto’s comeback attempt.
But despite coming up short, the Raptors can transfer their momentum from the end of Game 2 to Oakland on Wednesday night.
Pascal Siakam and Leonard had off shooting nights, and Kyle Lowry fouled out with 3:52 remaining. If those players can return to their average playoff-selves, the Warriors could be in trouble.
Heading into the next phase of the series, Kevin Durant’s status is still up in the air, but the forward is on track to play in either Game 3 or 4, according to Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr. If Durant returns, the Warriors will be able to shuffle their rotation players in even more ways, and it will take pressure off Curry, who was consistently hounded in Game 2 by multiple Toronto defenders.
The Warriors return to the Bay with home-court advantage on their side. They also head back with a supporting cast that just discovered its identity ahead of two critical matchups. But if Durant and Thompson remain sidelined and Curry is neutralized, can they win another NBA Finals on the backs of their role players?
We’re about to find out.