TORONTO — When the shots do not fall and the ball-movement no longer seems crisp, the Warriors usually have a solution to jumpstart their sluggish offense.

Get the ball to Kevin Durant. He often covers up the Warriors’ blemishes with consistently efficiently scoring. If only the Warriors had that as an option.

The Warriors labored through a 118-109 loss to the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday. The result offered the latest evidence to a topic that should have been irrefutable even during the Warriors’ recent success without him.

The Warriors are worse without Durant, who missed his sixth consecutive playoff game because of a strained right calf. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for a 16-of-35 clip from the field. Draymond Green became plagued with early third-quarter foul trouble (four), while also struggling with his offense (10 points on 2-of-9 shooting). And after having nine days to recover from a left calf injury, veteran Andre Iguodala left late in the game after taking an awkward fall.

In other words, this played out much differently than when the Warriors cemented a decisive Game 6 against Houston in the Western Conference semifinals with everyone playing as if their season depended on it. Or when the Warriors swept Portland in the Western Conference finals and overcame three 17-point deficits.

The Warriors did not look this vulnerable in the Finals since squandering a 3-1 series lead to Cleveland three years ago. Incidentally, that paved the way for the Warriors to acquire Durant as a free agent. To the Warriors’ benefit and the dismay of 29 other NBA teams, the Warriors then breezed past Cleveland in five games (2017) and in four (2018). It remains unclear if the Warriors can lean on Durant against Toronto.


Warriors coach Steve Kerr considered it a “long shot” that Durant would practice before Game 2 on Sunday, something he considered a prerequisite before his return. The Warriors had only recently cleared Durant to complete individual drills. Hence, Durant wore a sweatshirt at the arena that described the Warriors’ Game 1 circumstances perfectly. The sweatshirt read, “Been Through the Fire.”

In what became the Warriors’ first Game 1 Finals loss during their five-year run, they struggled in various categories that Kerr believes often determines the outcome.

The Warriors had less of an answer for Toronto forward Pascal Siakam (32 points on 14-of-17 shooting) than Kawhi Leonard (23 points on 5-of-14 shooting). The Warriors collected 27 fouls. They committed 16 turnovers, which led to Toronto scoring 17 points.

The Warriors play Game 2 on Sunday. For once, they will be playing from behind with uncertainty if their star player will return.


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