DeMarcus Cousins is still, very obviously, not 100 percent physically. This isn’t necessarily a surprise, as Boogie tore a muscle in his left quadriceps seven weeks ago and is playing despite the fact he wasn’t expected to return during the postseason. Instead, he came back for the NBA Finals, and in Game 2, Cousins played a major role in the Golden State Warriors evening up the series with the Toronto Raptors.
His first action in the series was less than ideal. Cousins looked like he was some combination of rusty and still exremely injured in eight minutes off the bench in Game 1, struggling to move and get into the flow of the game. The Warriors wanted to feed him the ball — he had 22 touches in 8:03 compared to 28 touches in 28:20 for Kevon Looney, per NBA.com — but it just didn’t quite work out.
Still, Steve Kerr thought it would be wise to replace Game 1 starter Jordan Bell with Cousins. It still took Cousins a little to get into the flow of the game, and in response, the Raptors attacked him repeatedly, especially on defense. Of their first 11 possessions, seven were not in transition, and all but one of them featured Marc Gasol, at one point or another, setting a ball screen with the hopes of getting Cousins to switch onto Kawhi Leonard. Of the remaining four possessions that involved Toronto getting out and running, two saw Cousins pick up Kyle Lowry, and both of those times, Lowry attempted a shot.
It was a classic case of a team hunting a matchup. By the Raptors’ estimation, their best bet was that they could play Cousins off the floor. Seeing as how he picked up two fouls in the opening 3:42, both of which were a direct result of Gasol and Leonard seeking him out and getting Cousins switched onto the Raptors’ star forward, that was a safe bet.
Cousins, of course, ended up playing an invaluable 27:37 in Game 2 and tied with Steph Curry and Draymond Green for the best +/- of the night for the Warriors. After the game, Kerr heaped praise on the performance Cousins put forth, saying the original plan was for him to play 20 minutes or so.
“He was fantastic and we needed everything he gave out there, his rebounding, his toughness, his physical presence, getting the ball in the paint, and just playing big, like he does,” Kerr said. “We needed all of that.”