Five thoughts on the NBA Finals: What to look for in the Raptors vs. Warriors series

The NBA Finals are here, and storylines abound. Our thoughts on which ones are worthy of your attention — and which ones can wait until summer. While it still seems like some far-off fantasy, the NBA Finals are set to tip-off here in Toronto in a matter of hours. It’s real! It’s happening! And as always when a major sporting event is getting underway, there are plenty of storylines and narratives out there to draw your attention.
But are all of them worthy of your attention? Here are our thoughts on five storylines making the headlines involving the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors going into the NBA Finals.
Injuries, and Who’s Coming Back When
By this point, you know that Kevin Durant is hurt, and has been ruled out for Game 1. DeMarcus Cousins is questionable for Game 1, and so is (somewhat surprisingly) OG Anunoby.
Obviously Durant’s injury looms over this series like nothing else. There are plenty of questions about how the Warriors play with or without him — more on this in a moment — but the difference it makes to Toronto is huge. If Durant is in the game, he becomes Kawhi Leonard’s primary assignment, …

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Author: Josh Kern / Raptors HQ

Series Preview: Raptors are able underdogs to Warriors in NBA Finals

We look at three storylines heading into the NBA Finals, where the Raptors can own an opportunity to win it all. I still believed they’d find a way to blow it. Standing there in between reviews in the final minute of Game 6, it felt like the Raptors had somehow found a new, previously unforeseen way to lose and break the fanbase. The ball was moving deeper into the corner. Inbounds passes have always been an issue for this team.
Then, they got it in. Pascal Siakam hit a free throw, then Kawhi Leonard held off the two most imposing Milwaukee Bucks players — Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez — to secure the rebound and hit two more. And it was over.

This really happened.— John Gaudes (@johngaudes) May 27, 2019

Being there for Game 6 will be something I never forget. Sounds cliché, but it’s true. Losing my voice booing Giannis free throws, seeing how loud the arena could get when Kawhi threw down The Dunk, walking out into bedlam on Lake Shore. It was all there, and now we’re here. The Raptors are in the damn NBA Finals, where they’ll meet the pre-eminent threat in …

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Author: John Gaudes / Raptors HQ

Series Preview: Raptors anticipate superstar clash against the Bucks

We look at three storylines heading into the Eastern Conference Finals, with a superstar matchup to die for leading the bill. It still feels like a fever dream. Kawhi Leonard — and by proxy, the Toronto Raptors — are now a part of NBA history after one of the biggest shots in playoff history. This, after all the years of heartbreak and LeBron destruction and Primo pasta commercials; it feels like a payoff that deserves some breathing room.
I, for one, spent the better part of Monday — my first day of vacation — camped out in sweatpants watching remix videos (the Father Stretch My Hands mashup is top notch), taking in fan reactions, reading articles, and listening to podcasts. It’s a moment worth marinating in, even if it’s just for a couple days.
After all, there’s still basketball to be played. Play the music!

SPIN THAT— mark (@tole_cover) May 13, 2019

The payoff for the biggest win in franchise history is an Eastern Conference Finals date with the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s not LeBron, so there’s probably more hope coming into this series than there was back in 2016 — the only other time the Raptors …

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Author: John Gaudes / Raptors HQ

Onley: Don’t expect a massive return for Stroman and Sanchez

One of the biggest storylines surrounding the Blue Jays this season is the seemingly inevitable trades of Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman. As both soon-to-be free agent starters pitch well, most fans see them as a part of the long-term solution. The front office seems to think otherwise.

Buster Olney appeared on Sportsnet 590 with Ben Ennis and JD Bunkis yesterday to talk about the direction the Blue Jays should go with their two key starters:

What’s the trade market like for Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez right now?@Buster_ESPN joined @FAN590 to discuss:
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 13, 2019

The main point is one we’ve heard many times before. Olney suggests that it makes sense for the Jays to sell high on Sanchez and Stroman as both guys are pitching well right now. This is especially important in the case of Sanchez as he’s had back-to-back seasons derailed due to injury. His strong start has done a lot to boost his value and there’s a little bit of volatility there if the Jays decide to hang on and wait. Same goes, to a lesser extent, for Marcus Stroman, who had a rough showing in 2018 due …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Series Preview: Raptors hope for matchup supremacy against 76ers

We look at three storylines heading into the Eastern semis, as tasty individual matchups break out between the Raptors and Sixers. I might be dating myself, but it doesn’t feel like that long ago when another Eastern Conference Semifinal between the Raptors and 76ers felt like a right of passage.
The East was still learning to walk outside the shadow of an all-time great, multiple teams were clamouring for a Finals where the result appeared predetermined, and Toronto and Philadelphia — thanks to the presence of superstars — had as good a chance as anyone.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because 2001 and 2019 might be generations apart for the Raptors and Sixers, but both teams once again find themselves sniffing at the opportunity of a new era in the NBA. When last time it was Vince Carter and Allen Iverson carving out legacies after Michael Jordan’s retirement, this time Philly and Toronto find themselves building stock through numbers, bolstered by LeBron’s exit to Los Angeles.
After reaching their ceiling with DeMar DeRozan and Dwane Casey, the Raptors swung for Kawhi Leonard, started under a new coach, and added Marc Gasol at the trade deadline. Philadelphia, not content with continuing …

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Author: John Gaudes / Raptors HQ