On brink of getting dethroned, Warriors still defiant

 

OAKLAND, USA – The Golden State Warriors must sweep 3 games in a row against the Toronto Raptors to win a third consecutive NBA title and fourth in 5 seasons.

And the defending champions hardly see it as an improbable task.

"It's not over," Golden State guard Stephen Curry said. "We're still fighting and trying to get over the hump. We still have life and have an opportunity to win."

Only once in 34 chances in NBA Finals history has a team rallied from 3-1 down to win the title, that being in 2016 when LeBron James led Cleveland back to defeat the Warriors.

"I don't think it's daunting at all," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "We look at it as a challenge. We've got to lick our wounds tonight, a tough loss, but the game's a few days away. We'll have plenty of energy and we'll be ready to go."

Toronto moved within a win of their first championship as Kawhi Leonard scored 36 points and the Raptors ripped the Warriors, 105-92, for a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series on Friday, June 7 (Saturday, June 8, Philippine time).

Leonard scored 17 points in the 3rd quarter when Toronto seized command, while Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam's second-half surge helped ensure Golden State did not overtake them late.

"We played really tough," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "We were taking a lot of punches early and we just kept standing in there and playing. Then we were able to exert our will in the second half."

Klay Thompson, who missed Game 3 with a left hamstring strain, led Golden State with 28 points while Curry added 27.

"It didn't affect me," Thompson said of his injury. "You're going to be banged up. You just got to dig deep."

'The wheels fall off' 

But the Warriors remained without playoff scoring leader Kevin Durant, out the past month with a right calf injury, and lacking him they were no match for the fast-moving Raptors.

"We played pretty well for 26 minutes and then they took control," Curry said. "It's one of those nights where you play a lot of energy, you start to build momentum and then the wheels fall off a little bit.

"They played another great game and we got to do something about it if we want to extend this series."

Leonard opened the second half with back-to-back three-pointers, giving the Raptors their first lead at 48-46. The Raptors later took full control, erecting a 16-point advantage, 88-72, by the 4th quarter. 

"Kawhi hits two straight threes to give them the lead and there was a surge of energy for them at that point," Kerr said. "That was a really key moment." – Rappler.com