OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors absorbed a blow on Wednesday night before a shot was even attempted. Coach Steve Kerr decided before Game 3 of the N.B.A. finals that Klay Thompson would not play because of a strained left hamstring, prioritizing caution over risk.
The Warriors were already missing Kevin Durant (indefinitely) and Kevon Looney (for the rest of the series) because of injuries, and now this? The Warriors are still a powerhouse in search of their fourth championship in five seasons, but they are not immune to sprains and strains, and the collective cost of so many battered body parts is mounting.
The Toronto Raptors took advantage against the Warriors’ depleted lineup, surviving everything that Stephen Curry could throw at them in a 123-109 victory. The Raptors, who took a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven series, are two wins from their first title. Game 4 is Friday night at Oracle Arena.
Kawhi Leonard led Toronto with 30 points, while Kyle Lowry finished with 23 points and 9 assists. Danny Green shot 6 of 10 from 3-point range to finish with 18 points.
Absent Thompson and Durant, Curry tried to carry the Warriors, setting a career playoff-high with 47 points while shooting 14 of 31 from the field. He also had eight rebounds and seven assists. Draymond Green added 17 points in the loss.
It remains to be seen whether the Warriors will get some reinforcements in time for Game 4, though Kerr did offer a promising update on Durant’s status before Wednesday’s loss. Durant, the star forward who has been sidelined since he strained his right calf on May 8, is expected to scrimmage with teammates and coaches at the Warriors’ practice facility on Thursday.
“That would be the next step,” Kerr said.
As for Thompson, he had lobbied hard to play in Game 3. He even did some pregame shooting as fans began to file into the arena. But Kerr said before the game that the training staff would determine whether Thompson would take the court.
“It’s still early in the series,” Kerr said, “so if there’s risk, we won’t play him.”
Shaun Livingston, the veteran guard, started for Thompson, and Livingston has been a steadying presence for the Warriors over the last half-decade. But he is not Thompson, and the Warriors struggled without his scoring and the spacing that he usually provides.
Curry knew he would need to take a ton of shots and he obliged, scoring 12 of the Warriors’ first 14 points. He wound up with 17 points in the first quarter alone, and the Warriors still trailed by seven. It was not a good sign for Golden State, which was more or less a one-man act. Toronto had far more depth.
The first half was so bleak for the Warriors that the Raptors went scoreless for nearly 5 minutes of the second quarter and still emerged from the drought with a 13-point lead.
The Warriors rallied after halftime, several times trimming the deficit to single digits. But the Raptors kept responding, and Leonard pushed the lead back to 12 with a 3-pointer. Danny Green later drilled a pair of 3-pointers in quick succession, and Golden State — despite Curry’s heroics — could not keep up.
The Warriors had won Game 2 in Toronto to even the series but paid a steep price in the process. Thompson strained his hamstring when he landed awkwardly after attempting a 3-pointer, and Looney, a reserve forward who was playing big minutes off the bench, was lost for the series when he collided with Leonard and sustained an injury near his collarbone.
Thompson’s absence was both problematic and unprecedented. Thompson had never missed a playoff game for the Warriors — 120 in all over the last seven seasons.
On Wednesday, his streak ended as the Raptors took another step toward a massive achievement of their own.
Here is how the Raptors beat the Warriors, as reported by Benjamin Hoffman, in New York, and Marc Stein, in Oakland, Calif.
4th Quarter: Warriors hustle, but Toronto’s Fred VanVleet quiets the crowd.
The Warriors had a little momentum going, but Fred VanVleet, as he has done so many times recently, hit a wild 3-pointer that pushed his team’s lead to 13 points with 1:39 remaining. For all intents and purposes, that should end this one.
Stephen Curry had cut the lead to 10 points with a pair of free throws following a play in which he dove for a steal and then wrestled with Danny Green for the ball, drawing a foul.
Marc Gasol answered with a short jumper and then Curry fought for another loose ball, ending up in a jump ball with Kyle Lowry which he won, setting up a Draymond Green layup.
That type of defensive intensity from a player not known for it had the crowd at Oracle Arena energized, but VanVleet’s 3-pointer, which came on a possession in which Golden State had done a good job of making Toronto work, quieted the crowd considerably.
4th Quarter: Serge Ibaka is coming through for the Raptors.
Among the many standout performers in this game from the Raptors, Serge Ibaka deserves a ton of credit for his work on the defensive end. The power forward has six blocks to go with his 6 points and four rebounds, repeatedly making Golden State pay for trying to get anywhere near the basket.
The Raptors called a timeout with 3:45 to go and their lead at 113-101.
4th Quarter: The Raptors’ lead is 17 with less than 6 minutes to go.
The Raptors are showing a terrific killer instinct in the fourth quarter, and they are putting this game away handily. Kawhi Leonard made a driving layup, pushing the lead to 111-94, forcing Golden State to take a timeout with 5:41 left in the game.
Toronto’s attack has been relentless. Leonard leads the team with 28 points and Kyle Lowry has been nearly as effective 23, including a 5 of 9 performance from 3-point range.
Stephen Curry is at 45 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists for Golden State, but Draymond Green has been less effective than he was in Games 1 and 2, DeMarcus Cousins has been almost invisible, and even when the Warriors have made mild gains in the game, they have been quickly erased by Toronto’s shooters.
Missing Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney is obviously a big blow to the Warriors’ defense, but the Raptors have hit 15 of 35 3-point attempts and that would have them in position to win on most nights.
4th Quarter: Toronto’s bigs are having their way with DeMarcus Cousins.
The Warriors reeled off a 6-0 run with a long 2-pointer by Quinn Cook and free throws by Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry, but Serge Ibaka got four points of the lead back with baskets on consecutive possessions in which he used his size to bully his way to the hoop.
DeMarcus Cousins, who had been so strong at the end of Game 2, is looking like a liability for Golden State, with absolutely no lift on his attempts under the basket, and Toronto’s bigs are handling him easily.
End of 3rd Quarter
Coming out of a timeout, Andrew Bogut got two quick baskets on assists from Stephen Curry — he’s up to six assists for the game — but Danny Green hit three more 3-pointers, giving him 21 points for the game, and Toronto’s lead has reached as high as 16 points.
Kawhi Leonard is up to 24 points to lead the Raptors.
At the end of the third, the Warriors are down 96-83, and while Curry has 40 points and eight rebounds, he appears to have needed far more help than this to get a win against the stacked Raptors, even with the game in Oakland. Barring a total collapse in the fourth quarter, Toronto will have regained home court advantage in the series.
Marc Stein: No one misses Klay Thompson less than Danny Green. The Toronto swingman has six 3-pointers in this Game 3 — after making just four 3s total in the Eastern Conference finals. Golden State just isn’t nearly the same team defensively without Thompson — and the reserve center Kevon Looney. Stephen Curry can’t give the Warriors more than he’s giving them — and no one is ever going to feel sorry for Golden State — but the hosts don’t appear to have enough firepower tonight, strange as that is to say.
3rd Quarter: Kawhi is here.
Even with the Warriors moving the ball around on offense and getting themselves open looks, the Raptors continue to find ways to pull away, leading 83-71 at Golden State’s latest timeout.
Stephen Curry is up to 34 points, and Andre Iguodala is up to 10 — including an age-defying alley-oop dunk on a pass from Draymond Green — but Kawhi Leonard has come alive at exactly the right time for Toronto and is up to 18 points.
The Raptors have gotten great play from their entire rotation, but Fred VanVleet has been particularly effective, providing deep shooting on offense and doing his best to harass Curry into bad shots on the other end.
3rd Quarter: The Raptors are beating the Warriors at their game: 3-pointers.
Marc Stein: This is a must-win game whether the Raptors will admit it or not.
Toronto’s 3-point shooting (11 of 25) could well prove to be the difference if the visitors hold on for a win in the first finals road game in Raptors franchise history. Teams that won the percentage battle from the 3-point line were only 6-4 in the conference finals, down from 50-16 in the first two rounds of the playoffs. But in the finals, Toronto fared better from long distance in Game 1 and is doing it again in Game 3 as the final quarter approaches. Kawhi Leonard’s 3 inside the final four minutes of the third quarter hiked the Raptors’ lead back into double digits (83-71) after Golden State drew within seven.
3rd Quarter: The LeBron record Curry doesn’t want
Stephen Curry, with two men in his face, hit a corner 3-pointer to get him to 32 points with 6:42 left in the third quarter, narrowing Toronto’s lead to 73-65.
Stats worth remembering: The most points in a finals loss was the 51 LeBron James scored in Game 1 of the 2018 series against Golden State. The most points scored in a finals win was 61 by Elgin Baylor of the Los Angeles Lakers, who also had 22 rebounds in Game 5 of the 1962 finals against the Boston Celtics.
3rd Quarter: Toronto goes on a run of its own.
The Raptors started Fred VanVleet in the third quarter, likely as a result of Danny Green’s foul trouble, and Toronto got off to quick 6-0 start with baskets by Kawhi Leonard and Marc Gasol and a pair of free throws by Gasol.
That seemed to wake Golden State up. Andre Iguodala answered that run with a 3-pointer and Curry hit shots on consecutive possessions, getting them back into things. And while Toronto continued to press, and has continued to shoot well from 3-point range, Golden State has yet to wilt.
Curry is already up to 29 points, but Kyle Lowry has 18 and every member of Toronto’s starting lineup other than Green has at least 12. Unless Golden State can recreate its defense from the end of the second quarter, the overwhelming talent advantage for the Raptors is going to be too much.
Halftime: It could be worse for the Warriors, but it’s not great.
The game looked like it could get away from Golden State in the first half, but thanks to Stephen Curry the Warriors went into halftime down by a — relatively — reasonable 8 points, 60-52.
The turnaround in the second quarter came on both ends of the court, with Andrew Bogut providing some key moments for Golden State by rebounding and drawing fouls and Draymond Green pestering all of Toronto’s shooters. But the story of the half for the Warriors was certainly Curry, who has 25 points on 7 of 13 shooting.
That approach thus far has not been enough against Toronto, which is getting a ton of offense from both Kyle Lowry (15 points) and Pascal Siakam (14). All of the Raptors’ starters have at least 8 points, and while the bench has not done enough, they simply haven’t had to yet.
If there is cause for concern from the Raptors, beyond being outscored by a modest 13-8 mark in the final 7:30 of the half, it is foul trouble. Marc Gasol, Danny Green and Lowry each have three, and Lowry is the biggest concern as he came into the game with 11 in the series, including having fouled out in Game 2.
The Warriors are known for third-quarter runs, and getting the lead to single digits at the end of the second quarter sets them up well for one, but without Klay Thompson, Kevon Looney and Kevin Durant, it’s unclear if such a run is possible. And even if they were to suddenly explode, they will have to make sure Kawhi Leonard, who has just 9 points so far, doesn’t do his own explosion on the other end.
2nd Quarter: It’s getting ugly.
In 2 minutes 8 seconds between timeouts, the teams combined for exactly one field goal: a layup by Draymond Green.
The action in that time consisted mostly of fouls, with Andrew Bogut committing his third, and Green and Marc Gasol each picking up their second. The teams harassed each other into missed shots, and it was a fairly ugly stretch of basketball.
The foul trouble by Bogut and Toronto’s Danny Green, who also has three, could be an issue.
2nd Quarter: Yes, that was goaltending.
When things are going right for a team, they tend to build on themselves. That’s the situation Toronto is in, with the lead now stretched to 14 because of plays like a Kyle Lowry 3-pointer and Serge Ibaka getting away with a goal tend on a layup attempt by DeMarcus Cousins.
Pascal Siakam continues to look a lot more like the Game 1 version of himself, and the Raptors are playing so well that Curry, who normally takes a lengthy rest at the start of the second quarter, was back on the floor after just 3 minutes 8 seconds on the bench.
Golden State has started to spread the ball around more, but thus far nothing is working.
2nd Quarter: The Raptors are in rhythm.
The Raptors got their lead back to 12, forcing Steve Kerr to call a timeout for Golden State.
Playing without Curry on the floor, the no-name Warriors looked fairly exposed on both ends of the court. DeMarcus Cousins managed to connect on a layup with his back to the basket, but that and two Shaun Livingston free throws represent the team’s entire scoring in the second quarter thus far.
Fred VanVleet looks to be continuing his hot streak, hitting another 3-pointer, Pascal Siakam got to the line thanks to a friendly call on some light contact from Jonas Jerebko, and right now the Warriors seem badly out of this game. Siakam is up to 12 points.
End of 1st Quarter
Toronto at one point ran its lead up to 12 points, but Golden State closed the quarter down 36-29 after some of the team’s supporting cast woke up. And, of course, Stephen Curry was brilliant.
The best play of the quarter for Golden State came when Curry pulled down an offensive rebound and threw a long outlet pass to Quinn Cook for a layup. But a close second was Draymond Green hitting a layup as he was falling and being fouled, converting a 3-point play to answer one from Kawhi Leonard on the previous Raptors possession.
The Raptors, though, are firmly in control, with no players having reached double figures in scoring as of yet, but the entire team looking in rhythm on offense. Danny Green, who has struggled with consistency in the playoffs, has 9 points, tying him with Kawhi Leonard for the team lead.
The Warriors are paced by Curry, who has 17 points — and multiple 30-foot 3-pointers — but don’t have another player with more than 3.
1st Quarter: Nobody is scoring for Golden State except Curry.
Toronto’s lead is up to 26-16 thanks to an offensive approach that spreads the ball around to find the right shooter on every possession. Marc Gasol is leading the way with 8 points, but Danny Green has a pair of 3-pointers, Pascal Siakam has looked far better than he did in Game 2, and Kawhi Leonard has been effective as well.
For the Warriors, it continues to be almost entirely the Stephen Curry show. The guard has 12 points (1 of 8 from the field), and is clearly happy to shoot in heavy traffic, but Golden State’s only field goal by a player other than Curry was a 2-footer by Andrew Bogut with 4:14 left in the quarter.
The non-Currys are currently 1 of 17 from the field.
1st Quarter: Curry needs some help.
In the early going, Toronto is off to a quick 15-7 lead thanks to a diversified offense that is succeeding against Stephen Curry’s one-man show.
Curry opened the game with a miss from 3-point range, but he hit a short jumper on the next possession and then made a statement with a wild 30-footer that found home. His teammates, however, opened the game a combined 0 of 4 from the field, including an air ball on a 3-point attempt by Draymond Green.
Toronto, though, was able to get to the line quickly after fouls by Shaun Livingston and DeMarcus Cousins, and also got quick baskets from Pascal Siakam, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard, showing a more diverse attack than at any point in Game 2.
1st Quarter: Warriors win the tip.
DeMarcus Cousins, starting once again at center for Golden State, won the tip against Toronto’s Marc Gasol and Game 3 is officially underway. The Warriors, chasing a third consecutive championship, will play tonight without three of the team’s top seven players.