Welcome to the 10 things recap by theScore features writer William Lou. Below you'll find major takeaways from Thursday's clash between Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors.
Classic: Nobody would complain if this was indeed the matchup for the NBA Finals, as this was easily the best game of the season to date. The shorthanded Warriors got 74 points from Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, who managed to force overtime, but Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam delivered the goods with 63 points to secure the win.
Star: Leonard seems to take these matchups against Durant personally ever since Durant called him a "system player" in 2014. Leonard looked every part of a superstar as he torched every defender the Warriors threw at him with his deadly pull-up jumper.
Superstar: That being said, Durant was clearly the better player with another gear that he can hit on offense. Durant kept the Warriors in the game with a flurry of pull-up jumpers and nailed two heavily contested threes late in the fourth to force overtime. The Raptors tried their best to contest Durant's shots, but elite offense beats good defense every time.
Scouted: Toronto still had a shot to end the game in regulation and they went to a crunch-time staple with Kyle Lowry screening to get a small defender switched onto Leonard. However, the Warriors anticipated this and put Andre Iguodala on Lowry, so there was no actual advantage when Leonard came off the pick. He ended up passing late in the clock to Serge Ibaka, who didn't even have time get a shot off.
Clutch: Leonard was a steadying force late in the fourth. He immediately drilled a 20-foot jumper against Klay Thompson after checking back in, then stopped Durant at the basket with some timely help defense before racing the other way and finding Danny Green for three to restore the lead back to double digits. He also drilled another jumper right in Durant's eye and secured a key defensive rebound.
Undercut: However, the Raptors weren't quite able to close the deal in regulation because they don't have enough secondary scoring. Kyle Lowry is supposed to fill that role, but he bricked a wide-open triple in the fourth, then passed up the shot the next trip down. Lowry has been excellent as a facilitator, but he's not consistently able to supply the goods when defenses force him to score. That being said, Lowry did have a clutch steal on Andre Iguodala late in overtime.
Development: Toronto's best secondary scorer this season might be Siakam, who scored a career-high 26 points on just 10 shots and iced the game with key free throws in overtime. Siakam drilled three triples and was consistently aggressive off cuts and post ups. However, Golden State will eventually counter with the likes of Stephen Curry and DeMarcus Cousins, and that will likely render Siakam's improvements moot. The Warriors are simply unfair.
Unfortunate: This is one of the matchups where Jonas Valanciunas just doesn't have a role. He's worse than ever on defense this season, his hands are always down instead of challenging shots, and all he ever does is retreat into the paint and invite open floaters and mid-range shots. If Valanciunas isn't gobbling up every rebound, then he just has to sit, because teams like the Warriors will attack him every time down.
Weakness: However, the Raptors generally struggle to rebound without Valanciunas in the game. The Warriors made a concerted effort to crash the glass - especially after long jumpers - and kept themselves in the game with 16 offensive rebounds. Kevon Looney was particularly active, as he outworked Serge Ibaka for six offensive rebounds.
Revenge: Jerebko sent Lowry flying with a dirty shove in the back on a rebound in the first quarter. Lowry got him back in the second half with a shot to the back. Both plays went uncalled.