Palawan, it’s going to be a very exciting finals match up in the National Basketball Association this year. The Golden State Warriors’ streak of finals appearances and win ratio look very promising but they do have to be wary about the capabilities of the Toronto Raptors. It’s the best team in the West and the beast of the East this year and the very first time a team from Canada has reached an NBA Final.

Led by the versatile skills of Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors have pulled the rug under the Milwaukee Bucks to enter the NBA finals after losing, yes losing, the first two games of their Eastern Conference Final show down. Does Toronto have the tools to surprise the Warriors and grab their very first franchise crown? Let’s see how the teams match up …

Golden State will potentially miss all star Kevin Durant and center Demarcus Cousins at least for the first game or two depending on their progress from injuries … but it seems that the Dubs’ offensive juggernaut didn’t miss both players as much what with an arsenal that included Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and a battalion of subs that know and play their role to the hilt. The Warriors can make a simple play a spectacular one with Curry’s none stop pass and cuts and the constant outside sniping of Thompson. Of course the defensive prowess of Green and Iguodala are a cut above the rest too. However, have they found their perfect match in the Raptors?

It’s Kawhi Leonard all the way for Toronto. But take a closer look at their roster and you will see playoff veterans in Kyle Lowry (who can match up with Curry defensively), Mark Gasol, and Serge Ibaka. They also have upcoming stars in Pascal Siakam and Fred Van Vleet. Down low, Toronto would have the edge with Marc Gasol anchoring the post and Siakam cleaning up the offensive glass. In my opinion, the Raptors can match and keep at pace with the Warriors by just focusing a little bit more down low. They also have the ability to chase the guards up high.

It will still boil down to a decisive edge in bench, scoring and the championship experience of the Warriors but that doesn’t mean the Raptors can’t compete. If Toronto can stretch it as far as a game 7, then it’s anyone’s ball game. The key is to keep the contest close and not let the Warriors pull away early. The Raptors have shown steady resilience amidst adversity as proven by their conquest of the Bucks and their resolve and capability will be fully tested by the Warriors.

One thing is for sure… it should be a total team effort from Toronto so as not to burn out Kahwi Leonard. They need him fresh for a potential game 7 series. The rest of the starters and the key bench personnel should step up and do their share of the work because we all know that it would only take a two minute offensive explosion from the Warriors to put the game away early.

GSW head coach Steve Kerr has experience and a deep bench (once KD and Boogie gets reactivated) but I am sure coach Nick Nurse, a true student of the game, has something up his sleeve. The think tanks will be working double time to dissect the matchups and give us all a very exciting NBA championship series. The writer’s prediction… the Warriors in 6 because of their vast playoff experience. This series could be the last for Kevin Durant and Damarcus Cousins as members of the Warriors as they are to hit free agency in the summer. Basketball never stops and we are here to enjoy the ride, Palawan.

(The writer is a senior leader in the Business Process Outsourcing industry managing Philippine countryside operations)

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