The great philosopher, Drake once told us in Too Good that “it can’t end like this.” For years we thought that this line was referring to a relationship that had gone wary for Drake, a woman that broke his heart. But we were all wrong. Drake knew it, he could feel it. Three years ago, Drake sensed something. Like a bad omen or a nervous twitch. When he closed his eyes he saw him, bleach blonde hair and one of the most intimidating figures that he had ever known. Drake predicted this. He knew that his own Toronto Raptors would have to come up against this insurmountable foe. This villain resided in The Bay and would bring an end to all the good that had been accomplished in the Six. As the NBA Finals reaches its zenith, the villain that terrorized Drakodamus’ mind three years ago is finally here. He is inevitable, he is all-powerful, and in his land, the House Warriors of Golden State will crush the Raptors of Toronto. Ladies and Gentlemen, Guy Fieri would like to welcome Game 3 of the NBA Finals to Flavortown.
The NBA Finals will probably be decided in the next two games. The Raptors had every opportunity in the world to take a 2-0 lead against a Warriors team that has struggled with injury, but the Warriors found redemption from the bench and role players that have made their franchise a true dynasty. So where do we go from here? Let’s look at a 5 on 5. 5 things for Basketball Fans to look for in Game 3 and 5 things for the casual fan to be aware of.
The Five Most Important basketball things to watch for in Game 3:
- Will the Warriors be healthy?: The Warriors are currently suffering from the worst injury stretch that has plagued them in their dynasty. Kevin Durant (calf) is still listed as questionable for Game 3 and seems to be out. Klay Thompson hyperextended his hamstring in Game 2 and is a game-time decision. Kevon Looney will be out for the remainder of the playoffs, DeMarcus Cousins is coming back from a quad injury, and even Steph Curry is dealing with flu-like symptoms. If you can tell me that Steph and Klay both play and are near 100% then I think the Warriors win, but if Steph is still sick and Klay sits out, then the Raptors could steal one in Oracle.
- What will the Warriors get from Boogie?: DeMarcus Cousins played great in Game 2, giving the Warriors another big man option that can pass, score, and rebound. Can DeMarcus continue this same progression or will he regress back to his performance in Game 1? I also believe that Steve Kerr has yet to unleash the post-game for Cousins, which could provide another scoring option if Klay or KD are still out.
- Will the real Pascal Siakam please stand up?: Pascal Siakam looked like a max player in Game 1 scoring 32 points on 14-17 shooting. He then proceeded to look like a completely different player in Game 2 only scoring 12 points on 5-18 shooting. So which Pascal do we get? If he plays as he did in Game 1, then the Raptors have another viable option next to Kawhi that can carry them to victory. The Raptors have little chance if Pascal doesn’t play well.
- The Warriors Bench Mob: It’s easy to look at all of the stars for the Warriors and believe that is the only reason they are successful. The truth of the matter is that Steph, Klay, KD, and Draymond have made the Warriors a great team, but their bench has made them a dynasty. The Warriors have assembled some of the best role players of all time on their team and those players are the ones that save the Warriors when they need it the most. Andre Igouadala hit the game-winning 3 in Game 2, Shaun Livingston always provides a spark off the bench, and now, even Quinn Cook is stepping into his role as a backup guard that can knock down 3’s. It’s important for the Bench of the Warriors to play good for them to have a chance to win, and just as important for the Raptors to shut those guys down.
- How active is Kyle Lowry?: Game 1 Kyle Lowry only scored 7 points, but also added 9 assists, 6 rebounds, and had a +/- of 11. Game 2 Kyle Lowry improved his scoring with 13 points but fouled out with only 2 assists and 1 rebound. He also finished with a plus-minus of -17. For the Raptors to have a chance, Kyle Lowry has to be consistently good. The enigmatic point guard has always been a regular season superstar but has struggled to perform in the playoffs. He has found other ways this year to make his mark on the game, but for the Raptors to beat the Warriors, Kyle Lowry has to be special. Even if his shot is not falling, Lowry must be aggressive on the defensive end, rebound, and run the offense. Kawhi is the star, but Lowry may be the most important piece.
The Five Most important things for the casual fan to watch for
- Drake vs. Fieri: Like Drago vs. Rocky, LeBron vs. His Hairline, or the Houston Rockets vs. Success, all great stories have a rivalry at their core. The most famous fan from Toronto brings his Dell Curry Jersey to Oracle to face the Mayor of Flavortown, Guy Fieri. Drake has wanted us to love him, but we could do it only partly. We only love Fieri and his flame shirts, we’re sorry.
- The return of Fergie?: The National Anthem is a beloved moment at all sporting events and the greatest way to start the game. Last year, during the All-Star Game, some of the Warriors players were seen laughing at Fergie’s rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. They even went as far to make a rap remix of her song and dance to it in the locker room. (Please watch it on YouTube, it is hilarious) Could the Warriors bring Fergie back for the beginning of Game 3 in a moment that would rival Michael Jordan returning from Baseball? Time will only tell, but we can all hope.
- Paul Pierce’s prediction: Paul Pierce is a former superstar in the NBA from the Boston Celtics that has now done what no player has ever done before and became an NBA Analyst. Pierce is literally the worst predictor in basketball history, so before the game check out NBA Countdown and see who Pierce picks. Then go ahead and mark it down that the exact opposite will happen. It’s always fun to know the outcome of the game before it begins.
- Lakers-Mania: If you have watched ESPN since the last day of the season you would have believed that the Lakers were the only team in the NBA. Every day there is a new story on how Kyle Kuzma may have spoken to Rob Pelinka in the hallway or how Lebron James is now sponsoring Taco Tuesday for Taco Bell. I guarantee that the Lakers and LeBron will be mentioned at various points throughout the game, so just prepare yourself for it.
- Kawhi Leonard’s postgame press conference: Kawhi is an odd guy. He may be the most literal person that has ever played in the NBA. After the game is over, no matter the outcome, be sure to stick around for the Kawhi Leonard post game press conference where he will have a moment that could look something like this:
Reporter: Kawhi, what did the Warriors do that gave you the most trouble in the game?
Kawhi: They scored more baskets than we did.
Reporter: Kawhi, did the long travel to Oakland have any effect on the way your team played tonight?
Kawhi: No, you don’t ride in airplanes during a game.
Game 3 of the NBA Finals will have something for everybody, so make sure to tune into the game. Fergie comes out and sings the National Anthem which throws Draymond off of his game early. With Klay and KD out, the Raptors get off to a quick start and have the Warriors down by 7 at half time. The Bench players spark a run for the Warriors that get the game tied going into the 4th. With the game tied at 103 in the 4th quarter, the flames on Guy Fieri’s shirt become real and ignite the crowd at Oracle. The Warriors play with emotion while Kawhi frowns one time down the court. With ten seconds left, Steph Curry fires up a three that bounces high off the rim and is tipped in by Andrew Bogut. Drake records a new album on heartbreak and Kevin Durant rips off his hoodie to reveal a New York Knicks jersey as the Warriors take care of business.
Score: Warriors 105 Raptors 103
Andrew Williams is a Contributor for the Unwrapped Sports Network website. Follow him @UnderBanners on Twitter.