The Toronto Raptors failed to take control of the NBA Finals on their own floor when they dropped game two of the series to the Golden State Warriors north of the border on Sunday night.
The Raptors got off to the right start with an impressive 118-109 victory over the Warriors in game one on Thursday thanks in large part to the dominance of Pascal Siakam, who led the way with 32 points and was nearly perfect from the field.
Siakam assumed the superstar role in game one while Kawhi Leonard and Marc Gasol contributed over 20 each. Leonard finished with 23 despite remaining quiet throughout much of the opening half.
In game two, Siakam fell back down to earth while Leonard reassumed his position as the team’s most dynamic player. After another slow start, Leonard would finish with 34 points in game two’s loss to Golden State.
For a minute there in game two, it really seemed as if the Raptors might be on their way to a commanding two games to none advantage. Then they stopped scoring.
While Stephen Curry joined Klay Thompson in the scoring parade and Golden State began to find an offensive flow, the Raptors went dead. It took Toronto until nearly the halfway point in the third quarter to score their first bucket of the second half and saw a five-point lead turn into a 13-point deficit.
It takes everything you have to beat even a shorthanded Warriors squad and a major scoring drought is typically a death sentence. The Raptors had not one, but two significant droughts in the second half to spell their ultimate demise.
Toronto failed to put the ball in the bucket again for three critical minutes near the end of the game. If you add up their two major second half scoring droughts, you have almost a full quarter of play without points.
The Warriors have played without Kevin Durant for the entirety of the series and have been dealing with a number of other smaller injuries as well. It is still uncertain if Durant will be back in the lineup for game three in Golden State on Wednesday.
In the NHL, the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues are deadlocked at two games apiece in the Stanley Cup Finals. Each team stole a game at the other’s venue, so Boston maintains the home-ice advantage heading into Thursday’s game five.
After a pair of tight contests in Boston were split, the Bruins handed the Blues a 7-2 loss in the first Stanley Cup game played in St. Louis since 1970 to take a two games to one lead. Boston missed their chance to bury the Blues on Monday in game four.
St. Louis rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington, who was pulled from game three because he was performing at such a low level, bounced back in game four by allowing just two goals in the 4-2 win.
While Boston appears to be the better team, the Blues have held their ground and find themselves even with the favorites. Their physicality has allowed them to slow down the Bruins as each game progresses, but they will have to steal another in Boston if they hope to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup for the first time.