Stephen Curry will be on hand, but Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala won’t when the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors meet Thursday night for the first time since the NBA Finals last June.
The Raptors took advantage of injuries to Durant and Thompson to beat the two-time defending champions 4-2 in the best-of-seven championship series, getting a Finals Most Valuable Player performance from Leonard.
However, Leonard has since moved on to the Los Angeles Clippers, Durant to the Brooklyn Nets and Iguodala to the Miami Heat via the Memphis Grizzlies. Thompson, who blew out his knee during a 30-point performance in the series-ending Game 6, remains sidelined.
Curry, meanwhile, is scheduled to return from a 58-game absence that resulted from breaking his left hand in the fourth game of the season against the Phoenix Suns. The two-time MVP passed his final test when he scrimmaged with the Warriors’ G League affiliate in Santa Cruz, Calif., on Monday.
The Raptors, meanwhile, even without Leonard, have been playing at or near their championship level throughout the 2020 season.
They will take the second-best record in the Eastern Conference up against a Warriors team that has slipped to the bottom of the West.
The Raptors snapped a three-game losing streak with a 123-114 win at Phoenix on Tuesday. They lost two days earlier at Denver to open a five-game Western swing.
Pascal Siakam, who was last seen in the San Francisco Bay Area pouring in 26 points in the Game 6 win over the Warriors, had 33 points to pace Toronto in the win over the Suns.
The Raptors were able to prevail at Phoenix without Fred VanVleet (sore left shoulder) and Serge Ibaka (sore right knee). Neither is likely to face the Warriors.
Those injuries have created more playing time for versatile OG Anunoby, who has exploded onto the scene of late after having seen no action in last year’s playoffs.
“He’s just making a lot better basketball plays,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of Anunoby, who has played 37 or more minutes in three consecutive games, averaging 19.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and five steals in the run. “It’s almost like (the game) was moving too fast for him early in the year, and now it’s not. Now he’s really getting to where he needs to get to, and he’s really becoming a good basketball player.”
The Warriors have employed several similar learning-on-the-fly type players in recent games. Four of the nine guys who got playing time Tuesday in Golden State’s surprising 116-100 win at Denver were products of 10-day contracts (Dragan Bender, Mychal Mulder and Chasson Randle) or the G League (Juan Toscano-Anderson).
The Warriors hope to get Draymond Green (sore knee) and Kevon Looney (sore hip) back for the revenge game against the Raptors. But more important, they are looking forward to having Curry join a cast that has won two of its past three games.
“I’ve done every rehab drill you can think of,” Curry told reporters recently. “I’m getting used to what a new normal is. (My left hand) definitely feels different than my right hand. You try to get to a point where you’re playing basketball and you don’t actually think about it, whether it feels all the way the same or not.”
The Warriors have lost nine in a row at home.
–Field Level Media