The Raptors aren’t afraid to ‘let it rip,’ and they’re not afraid of the defending champs

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When the Golden State Warriors laid a crushing 18-0 run on the Toronto Raptors in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, their leader, Stephen Curry, declared it one of those moments when “our DNA shows up.”

It’s a daunting thing, that championship DNA. If you’re not careful, you can suffocate under the weight of the possibility of that dominance. Many playoff opponents have fallen victim to a franchise loaded with stars who, when they are rolling, seem invincible. nike

Yet one thing was abundantly clear Wednesday at Oracle Arena: Toronto had no intention of wilting under the pressure of the championship pedigree of its undermanned opponent. When the Warriors charged, the Raptors fended off their run with clutch shooting. During stretches when the Raptors faltered offensively, they righted themselves with defensive stops.

In fact, in the wake of their 123-109 Game 3 victory in one of the most intimidating buildings in the NBA, the Raptors might be in the process of crafting some promising genetic coding of their own.7

“That’s true,” said Serge Ibaka, who blocked six shots in the game and knocked down a monster wing jumper with 10 minutes to play. “We are working on our own DNA, and it’s defense. There are some nights when you’ll make all your shots, but it won’t happen every night. One thing for sure that we can do is defend.”

No one had to explain to the Raptors what was at stake. Kevon Looney is out for the rest of the series. Klay Thompson was a very late scratch because of a balky hamstring. Kevin Durant missed his eighth consecutive game because of a strained calf. For Toronto, there was no option but to win. Lose the game, and it would be a death knell for a team that is on this grand stage for the first time and must take advantage.

The Raptors had to grab this one and take a 2-1 series lead, especially with Durant lurking in the shadows, plotting his return. In preparation, someone wrote a simple message on Toronto’s white board just before tipoff: “Let it rip.”

“That was the plan,” said veteran Kyle Lowry, who hit some of the biggest shots of his career down the stretch of this game. “Stay cool. Stay calm. Don’t let them affect what we do.”

What the Raptors did in the opening minutes was attack starting center DeMarcus Cousins in the paint, repeatedly feeding Marc Gasol in the post as if he were a reincarnation of Shaquille O’Neal. Gasol took as many shots (seven) in the opening quarter Wednesday as he did in all of Game 2. The Raptors also looked to unleash the lively Pascal Siakam in and around the key, where he is most effective. By the two-minute mark of the first quarter, the visitors’ lead was 10, and Thompson was chained to the bench, his warm-ups zipped tight. He slumped forward, his angst palatable.