2019 NBA Finals Game 1: Siakam has coming-out party on grandest stage

Caroline Cameron sat down with Raptors assistant coach Sergio Scariolo, who talked about this year's team, last year's run and more!

You can relive Game 1 of the Raptors’ Finals series against the Warriors Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on Sportsnet and Sportsnet ONE. The full broadcast schedule for the re-airing of Toronto’s historic 2019 championship playoff run can be found here.

There was a real sense of disbelief in Scotiabank Arena when coming into Game 1 of the Finals between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors. Around the concourse and in the stands fans were pumped up, but there was certainly an air of shock that they were going to witness their team competing for a championship momentarily.

It’s a good thing for them, however, that the sense of awe they were feeling didn’t trickle down to the actual men playing for the title.

Despite the narrative coming into the Finals that the Warriors’ championship experience would hold out – even sans Kevin Durant – and that the moment might be too big for the Raptors, Toronto showed no signs of nervousness and managed to shock much of the basketball world by taking Game 1 118-109.

Here’s a quick look back at some of the factors that led to Toronto’s first-ever Finals victory.

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Siakam introduces himself to the world

When thinking back on Game 1, only one thing comes to mind: Pascal Siakam’s coming-out party.

The eventual Most Improved Player had been having a fabulous regular season that carried over into the post-season and saw him make adjustments and add to his game nearly every night. But unless you were a Raptors fan or were closely monitoring the team, you likely weren’t noticing all this.

That all changed in Game 1 of the Finals, however, when Siakam put together what was arguably his best performance of the post-season and introduced himself to the greater basketball world as a legitimate rising star in the league with a 32-point, eight-rebound, five-assist masterclass performance that saw him go an outrageous 14-for-17 from the field.

Even more impressive is the fact Siakam did the brunt of this work with former Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green checking him. According to NBA.com, Green spent 9:33 of his time on defence during the game matched up with Siakam, by far the most of any player he was matched up with in the contest.

Sticking with Green on Siakam for that prolonged length of time proved fatal for Golden State as the future Raptors all-star went off on Green, burning the Warriors forward for 14 points on 7-for-10 shooting in that time with Green matched up against him.

A lot of this damage came in the third quarter, when Siakam went off for 14 points alone in the frame on perfect 6-for-6 shooting, while nearly getting everything right at the rim.

If you had been watching the Raptors beforehand, none of what Siakam did in that Game 1 was anything new nor surprising, but to everyone else, seeing the nimble and athletic Siakam run the floor, put dudes in the spin cycle and softly finish with both hands was eye-opening.

The Raptors were a lot more than just Kawhi Leonard.

If there is a podcasting odd couple, this might be it. Donnovan Bennett and JD Bunkis don’t agree on much, but you’ll agree this is the best Toronto Raptors podcast going.

The game in a GIF

What you see above is the first made basket of Siakam’s awesome 14-point third quarter.

Notice how effortlessly Siakam was able to shake Green there with that little half turn after posting Green up. This was indicative of the kind of night Siakam was having with Green defending him and perfectly encapsulates the relative ease at which the Raptors were able to take Game 1

Game 1 Boxscore (via NBA.com)

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