Breakfast Special: Will the Raptors Blow a 3-1 Lead?

The Golden State Warriors finally failed to hit 109 points in a Finals game, a score they’d posted like clockwork in each of the first three games of this championship series despite losing two of them.

Too bad for them, because 109 would’ve been enough to win this one. As it stands they lost 105-92 to the Toronto Raptors and look an awful lot like a team that’s going to be forced to surrender when the battle shifts back to Canada for Game 5.

In some small way, this is validation for Kevin Durant. Stephen Curry looked completely spent in Game 4, Klay Thompson is still the same feast-or-famine player he’s always been, and the two-time Finals MVP’s injury has shown just why the Warriors needed to sign him after blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 Finals against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

At the same time, all eyes are on Kawhi Leonard in Toronto. He’s all but assured of being the Finals MVP unless the voters give some kind of lifetime-achievement-award to Kyle Lowry, but will that be enough to convince him to re-sign with the team and try to create a championship dynasty in the Great White North?

Kawhi had 36 points on 11-of-22 shooting and 12 rebounds in 41 minutes, all that load management during the regular season paying off in a big way with fresh-enough legs in June.

Of course, if you’re the kind of fan who hates “load management” and healthy-scratch DNP-Rest games during the regular season, this will prove infuriating when the copycat league that is the NBA starts seeing no star play more than 60 games per 82-game season.

But then again, you can’t argue with the results, and veteran teams have always “saved an extra gear for the playoffs.” The difference back then was that stars dogged it in games. Under the new system, stars just sit those games out. War…war never changes.

Lowry, incidentally, shot 3-of-12 in Game 4, in case you didn’t catch the being-facetious part of that Finals MVP wisecrack a few paragraphs up.

On the Warriors side, speaking of the spent casing that was Steph Curry’s ammunition, he shot 9-of-22 from the field and 2-of-9 from long range to get his 27 points, and while his fellow Splash Brother put up 28 on 11-of-18 from the field and 6-of-10 from beyond the arc, the rest of the team did approximately jack squat, shooting just 15-of-38 (39.5 percent) from the field, 0-of-8 from three, and 7-of-13 (53.8 percent) from the line.

Meanwhile, Toronto Raptors not named Kawhi or Pascal Siakam (who had 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting) posted a better supporting performance, scoring 50 points to Golden State’s 37 (hey look, the margin of victory!) on 19-of-50 (38 percent) shooting, 5-of-21 (23.8 percent) from three, and 7-of-7 from the line.

The point here is that both teams were top-heavy; hell, if you take out Serge Ibaka‘s 9-of-12 and 20 points off the bench, the Raptors look even worse.

The Finals have been ugly in places, but it’s hard to argue with such a fun narrative, especially considering that the Warriors aren’t the only team with age and free agency set to ravage them in the very near future.

Enjoy this last gasp of the NBA’s last era that started when the league rose out of the Dark Ages and ends with these Finals.

Whatever’s coming next—Milwaukee, Boston, Zion Williamson, next man up—it’s coming soon.

Kawhilights from the Finals MVP:

Serge, in general (yeah, I know, I stole that joke from MAD Magazine, shut up):

P-Skills from the Most Improved Player:

And the cagey veteran who’s finally getting a ring:

Game 5 is Monday. Looks like it might be the last Breakfast Special of the season on Tuesday. If so, it’s been a helluva run. And Pacers fans, stay tuned, because you’re getting TWO features tomorrow, one about the point guard situation, another about DeMar DeRozan and rumors involving him and Bojan Bogdanovic.

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!