The Raptors did many things right in beating the Warriors in the NBA Finals opener Thursday.
But a day after Toronto’s 118-109 win, head coach Nick Nurse was a glass-half-empty kind of guy, focusing on what his team did wrong. And he expects Golden State will come back with a vengeance in Game 2 Sunday in Toronto.
“We know that after a win the team that gets beat gets really determined. They try to fix things. They mostly play a lot harder and more physical and all those kind of things,” Nurse told reporters Friday.
“And for us, we just had a lengthy, lengthy film session. There was plenty on there that we need to do better if we want to win another game in this series. So we have to fix those things and get ready to play a game. And treat it as a game, one game.”
The Raptors won Game 1 despite off-nights by Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry, thanks to the spectacular play of forward Pascal Siakam, who scored 32 points on 14-of-17 shooting. He added eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks. But those numbers don’t really do justice to what Siakam accomplished. He became just the seventh player in NBA Finals history to score 30-plus points on 80 percent shooting or better, according to NBA Stats, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Adrian Dantley, Michael Jordan, Toni Kukoc and Shaquille O’Neal.
Siakam, who is in his third season, is also one of only five players to have 30-plus points in Game 1 of an NBA Finals within their first three seasons in the league (since 1970). The others? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1971), Julius Erving (1977), Hakeem Olajuwon (1986), and Tim Duncan (1999).
Nurse had high praise for the young Cameroonian player after the game, and again Friday.
“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Nurse said. “That’s a pretty big stage for a guy to put that kind of performance on. … I talked about this last night after the game when I was asked about it: He’s been given a God-given ability of having a big engine with lots of energy that enables him to play with a certain speed, athleticism, and enables him to work very hard every single day.
“That motor he’s been given, he’s using that to the best of his ability. He soaks up things. He takes it to the court. He works, works, works. He takes care of himself. He’s really got a burning desire to be a very, very good player in this league. I give him all the credit for that for using those abilities to the best that he can.”
That motor carried the Raptors to a 1-0 series lead. Not that Nurse is counting.
“We’ve tried to do a conscious thought process of not really caring what the score of the series is,” Nurse said.