Last night’s Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals was more than likely satisfying for most basketball fans as the Golden State Warriors failed to muster a fourth quarter comeback against the Toronto Raptors. Since the final whistle blew last night, there have been many voices in an attempt to break down and analyze the dominating victory by the Raptors. I now add mine.
Yesterday’s game had little to do with those on the court. This game was strictly about Kevin Durant, and regardless of the outcome in this Finals, this series is all about Durant. I had the strange thought that the Warriors’ loss was the best thing to happen for Durant.
Golden State looked sluggish, unprepared and lost in the 118-109 defeat. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson chipped in their usual double-digit performances. But despite their ability to make it through the Western Conference Finals with no problem, Durant’s presence was missed Thursday night in Toronto.
Forget the turnovers, lack of bench support and nine day break from basketball. Yesterday proved the value of Durant to this Warriors team. In fact, this proved Durant’s value to any team. Before his injury, Durant was easily the most dominating player in the playoffs.
As strange as this sounds, Durant more than likely won’t be back in time for Game 2 and the Warriors have an uphill battle ahead of them until he returns. Nearly every player on the Raptors roster had a confidence boost after Game 1 and that in itself can be lethal if you’re the Warriors.
Game 1 doesn’t set in stone what will happen, but it does solidify the fact that Durant is the best player in the league and he alone is more important in determining the future of this series than the outcome of Game 1. Golden State’s loss has put Durant in the spotlight. When he returns, that will be the defining point in the legacy he leaves. Twenty years from now we’ll be talking about Game 1 and how Durant’s absence was the difference. We won’t be talking about how Kawhi Leonard went 5-14 from the field. We also won’t be discussing how Pascal Siakam played the most impressive game of his career to this point.
This series is all about Durant. And last night’s loss was the best thing to happen for Durant and his legacy.
The Perfect Storm
Every chance I can get to throw in a plug for our new podcast, I take full advantage of that opportunity.
We recently released our second episode of Beyond the Game on multiple platforms. If you even have a the smallest whim of interest in sports you have to check out the podcast.
Episode two, entitled The Perfect Storm, is an entertaining conversation with Matt Hanson, a local athlete in Rock Springs. Hanson has done some of the most insane races you couldn’t even dream up. He has used running to battle his ADHD. In essence, he has turned one of his weaknesses into a strength. And now he works as a school counselor to help children do the same.
I’m not giving you an option, you have to check out the podcast. You can find it here.
Brayden is a sports and community reporter for SweetwaterNOW. His column, Flack Friday, will be posted every Friday. You can submit comments, questions or ideas regarding the column to firstname.lastname@example.org.