The Warriors went back to their roots to beat the Raptors in Game 5.
They say it’s a make-or-miss league. On Monday, the Warriors made and the Raptors missed. Golden State shot 20-for-42 on three-pointers to send the NBA Finals back to Oakland.
The Warriors’ dynasty was built on the shoulders of two of the greatest shooters ever — Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Their overwhelming barrage of threes broke teams time and time again, and the story was no different in Game 5.
After the Raptors took a 103-97 lead with three minutes, 28 seconds remaining, Curry and Thompson responded.
First it was Thompson, then Curry, then Thompson again and suddenly the Warriors were winning by three — a lead they would never relinquish, eventually winning 106-105.
Golden State shot 47.6 per cent from deep compared to just 25 per cent (eight-for-32) for the Raptors. In a one-point loss, that was obviously a massive difference.
Five years ago, the Warriors stormed through the NBA on their way to the title, and changed the way basketball was played in the process. Curry and Thompson were given the green light to shoot whenever they wanted from beyond the arc.
WATCH | Warriors use 20 three-pointers to beat Raptors in Game 5:
The Warriors revolutionized the game with the simple understanding that three is more than two. If you shoot 35 per cent from three over 100 possessions, you’ll score 105 points. You would need to shoot 53 per cent within the arc to beat that total.
Two years later, Golden State added another of the best shooters ever in Kevin Durant. But without Durant out in Game 5, and with the rest of roster thinned of three-point shooters due to a combination of aging and roster construction, the Warriors were forced to find other ways to score outside of the Splash Brothers.
The Raptors out-attempted the Warriors from three in each of the first four games of the 2019 NBA Finals. The Warriors’ Game 2 win came when they shot nearly 10 percentage points higher from three than the Raptors.
Splash Bros flip the script
But in Game 5, the Warriors flipped the script with 10 more attempts than the Raptors. Their shots fell at an unsustainably high rate, but there’s no reason to believe that will correct itself with two games at most remaining in the season.
Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Durant combined to go six-for-13 on Monday. For perspective, the first two shot 28.5 per cent and 33.3 per cent for the season, respectively, while the latter suffered a season-ending Achilles injury.
WATCH | Durant leaves game in 2nd quarter with Achilles injury:
Curry and Thompson combined for 12-of-27 from distance. In the other three games Thompson played during these NBA Finals, that duo had yet to even attempt 20 combined three-pointers.
As it turns out, giving the best shooters in NBA history more shots was important for the Warriors on a night they needed every last point. The Splash Brothers provided simple solution to team-wide shooting woes.
The Raptors, meanwhile, should still feel confident up 3-2 in the series. They suffered their worst shooting night of the Finals and still only lost by one. Durant shouldn’t be a presence back at Oracle Arena.
But for one night at least, the Warriors remembered how they were built and got rewarded for it. They made their shots. The Raptors missed theirs.
It’s that kind of league.