Raptors (+4.5) @ Warriors (215)
Pick: Warriors First Quarter -1.5
If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to start giving the Raptors a real chance to win this series. Sportsbooks certainly have as Toronto is a short favorite on the series money line after taking a 2-1 lead on Wednesday night. The Raptors have been getting more well-rounded performances on the stat sheet and lightening Kawhi Leonard’s load since they were down 0-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals against Milwaukee. As good as Leonard is -- and not to take anything away from him -- Toronto is going to win or lose this series based on the performances of players not named Kawhi Leonard. Kyle Lowry has risen to the occasion, when he’s not being pushed by Warriors investors, Fred VanVleet has continued to hit big shots and Pascal Siakam has played some of the best games of his young career. With all that said, while Golden State was short-handed on Wednesday, the Warriors played a bad defensive game for the second time in three games in this series. That has to change on Friday and I think the Warriors come out with that mindset and play their best defensive quarter of the series in the first 12 minutes tonight. Throw in Klay Thompson’s imminent return and I look for the veteran guard to get in a rhythm early and for the Warriors to have at least a five-point lead after the opening period. I’d lean to the Warriors when betting the full game spread, but for the aforementioned reasons, have too much respect for what the Raptors have done so far in this series to lay points against Nick Nurse’s team. Give me Golden State in the first quarter in Game 4.