The Toronto Raptors made a statement on Wednesday night, blowing the Golden State Warriors out of the building with a 113-93 victory, on the second night of back-to-back road games, and without their star player due to a hip injury.
Playing the two-time defending National Basketball Association champions in their raucous home arena - a place where they haven't won since February, 2004 - on the second night of a back-to-back with their all-star forward out with a sore hip and their backup centre limited to eight minutes by an injury, the Raptors had every reason to fold their tent here Wednesday.
Many NBA experts have predicted the league-leading Toronto Raptors will take on the league-champion Golden State Warriors in the finals this season.
Leonard has missed seven games already this season. To put the defensive performance in perspective, the 93 points the Warriors scored were the fourth fewest they've scored when Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Durant have all played together. He went through the shootaround before the matchup in Los Angeles, but was still sore.
"Pace", said Lowry of the difference in this one.
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Before the Raptors faced the Clippers on Tuesday, the Toronto guard was given a relatively easy question when asked if he could talk about his favorite Christmas moment. The Raptors repeatedly beat the sluggish Warriors to loose balls and outrebounded them 48-40.
They did it despite not having Leonard for a second consecutive night. We didn't slow it down. "They're not an up-and-coming team", Kevin Durant said of the Raptors. "We kept going, kept going, and I think that kind of helped us".
The Raptors had recorded a 131-128 overtime win over the two-time defending champs when the teams met in Toronto late last month.
The Raptors didn't beat the Warriors on Wednesday night so much as they dismantled them.
But if anything it was the Warriors that looked slow and out of rhythm while the Raptors seemed to pick up right where they left off from the Clippers game turning defence into offence and controlling the one from the opening tip.
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