The long and grueling NBA postseason has nearly reached its conclusion. On Thursday, the basketball world’s eyes will turn to Toronto for Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Raptors and the Golden State Warriors. It’s a series full of intrigue, with stakes that could potentially go beyond determining an NBA champion this season. Add in that it’s a new, non-Cavaliers challenger for the two-time defending champions and this series has a potential to be a blast.
Before it starts, the Dime staff came together for a two-part roundtable to preview the Finals. Today, we looked at potential x-factors for both squads, debated which player is the most important, and predicted when we think we’ll see Kevin Durant return from his lingering calf injury.
Who is the most important player in this series?
Jeff Siegel: Draymond Green. He’s essential to what Golden State does offensively in their pick-and-roll game with Steph Curry and has to execute every time on the short roll. Toronto’s going to make him finish at the basket and prove that he can do that over Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka. If he can do that, then it opens up all the passing angles on which he thrives. Defensively, he’ll be playing the Antetokounmpo role from the previous series — as Golden State funnels Leonard to his left, he’ll be the one waiting in the paint to challenge at the basket.
Chris Barnewall: Kyle Lowry was finally able to shake off his playoff struggles in the Eastern Conference Finals, but he needs to continue that level of play against the Warriors. The Raptors can’t have him throwing up donuts in Game 1. He needs to come out strong, aggressive, and smart.