TORONTO — For the first time in the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty, they trail 1-0 in the NBA Finals.
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers never won the first game in the previous four Finals.
The Toronto Raptors and forward Pascal Siakam just did it with a 118-109 victory Thursday in Game 1, and the Raptors started the series with the kind of performance necessary if they want to dethrone the Warriors, who are chasing their third consecutive title and fourth in five seasons.
Check this out: For the first time in NBA history, a Canadian won a Finals game and has a 1-0 series lead.
Game 2 is Sunday (8 p.m. ET, ABC).
Siakam, the leading candidate for Most Improved Player this season, scored 14 of his playoff career-high 32 points in the third quarter, and during a stretch in the middle of the game, Siakam made 11 consecutive shots. He finished 14-of-17 from the field and also had eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks. He provided the X-factor the Raptors needed.
Toronto also won without a dominating performance from forward Kawhi Leonard and guard Kyle Lowry. Leonard, the star of the Eastern Conference playoffs, finished with 23 points, but he was just 5-of-14 from the field. However, he made 10 free throws, collected eight rebounds and added five assists. Lowry had just seven points, but he was solid with nine assists and stout defense.
The Raptors had clutch spot performances from several players. Center Marc Gasol contributed 20 points and seven rebounds, and Fred VanVleet (15 points) and Danny Green (11 points) provided 3-point shooting. Green’s 3-pointer with 7:32 left in the fourth quarter put Toronto ahead 100-88.
Don’t overlook Toronto’s defense, which held Golden State to 43.6% shooting and blocked six shots. Steph Curry had 34 points, Klay Thompson 21 and Draymond Green had a triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. But no other Warrior reached double figures in scoring.
Golden State center DeMarcus Cousins played for the first time since injuring his quadriceps against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 2 of the first round. He was a non-factor in eight minutes.
Golden State also committed 17 turnovers — six by Green — and allowed 24 fastbreak points.
Golden State’s Kevin Durant did not play in Game 1 as he recovers from a strained calf. It remains unclear when he will return — he hasn’t had a full practice yet — but the Warriors look like they need him in this series.
The Raptors handled a major test. Golden State made several attempts to make it a close game, and Toronto responded each time.
When the Warriors cut it to 113-106 with 1:14 to play, Siakam rebounded his own miss and put it back and Lowry sealed the victory with a three-pointer.