Tonight the Raptors travel to California to face the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the NBA finals, and if you’re Canadian and have a pulse you’ll probably be tuning in. Maybe for the first time ever — which is totally fine. (Ain’t no shame in hopping on the bandwagon). For new fans and returning fans and fans who want to know exactly WTF is going on with Drake’s x-treme trolling, here’s R29’s guide to fast-tracking your Raptors fandom.
For starters: Which team is favoured to win the NBA finals?
This really depends on who you ask. And when you ask it. And whether that person is a person or an artificially intelligent being. Heading into the series Vegas oddsmakers were almost exclusively in favour of Golden State. After the Raps clinched Game 1, a lot of odds makers gave us a slight advantage, but following Sunday’s loss that has more or less reverted. Notably while most sports journos don’t have the North’s back, a number of statistical models are more optimistic about our prospects. Don’t want to talk data crunching during a game? Okay fine. Some people are pointing out that the King of the North Kawhi Leonard has a pretty impressive track record when it comes to destroying Warriors. The fact that Warriors stars Kevin Durant (and possibly Klay Thompson) are out with injuries is nothing but good news re. Toronto’s hoop dreams. And we have home court advantage…
Does home-court advantage really matter?
Yes! The Warriors may have the best road game in the league, but there is no discounting the fact that a potential Game 7 tie breaker would go down in Toronto. Since the introduction of the shot clock more than fifty years ago, home teams have won 79% of Game 7s. Drop that stat to the bro-it-all at your viewing party.
Because just like Queen Elizabeth, Drake has been using his wardrobe to psych out the competition. And it may be working. During Game 1 he sat courtside sporting an old-school Raps jersey (the purple one with the dinosaur). He wasn’t just paying tribute to the franchise’s history — the singlet once belonged to Dell Curry, former Raptors shooting guard (1999–2002), and father of Golden State high-scoring hero Steph Curry — who was in grade school in Toronto while his dad played for the Raps. The jersey (which Drake’s style team apparently procured in a last-minute, cross-border top-secret mission) was authentic and autographed and definitely got the job done. (Apparently the famous Drake curse transmits through family trees.) At Game 2 Drake was once again sending wardrobe smoke signals. But wait — wasn’t he wearing a plain black hoodie? Well, yes — that’s what we saw from the front. Fans sitting behind the Six God saw this — a picture of Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin doing the signature “Kevin!” double cheek smack.
Golden State superstar Kevin Durant, who has been out for the first two games, and it was recently announced that he will stay out for game three — still recovering from a right calf strain. Whether he returns at all is a pretty huge big deal given that Durant has averaged 34.2 points per game in the post season. But back to Drake…
What will he wear to Game 3?
The bigger question may not be what he’ll wear, but whether he’ll show. During the quarterfinals the Raps’ Global Ambassador stayed home, watching his team with the people at Jurassic Park. (Okay fine, he watched from a VIP section, but still.) It’s possible Drake is aware of his enemy #1 status among Golden State fans (and Smash Mouth lead singers). Or maybe he missed other away games because he didn’t have a $100 million private jet waiting to fly him wherever he wanted for free!
Wait — what?
That’s right. Last month the Canadian cargo company CargoJet gifted Drake his very own private plane. Because (as the Raptors know first hand), Drizzy is good for bizzy.
Okay, can we talk about some actual Raptors now? Kyle Lowry?
More like Kyle Foul-ry. During Sunday night’s game the heart and soul and cheer squad captain of the Raptors was fouled out with just under four minutes left in the fourth. K-Lo’s willingness to turn himself into a human bumper car is part of what gives him edge on the court, but he has to stay on the court. Because four minutes is a million years in basketball. And because Kawhi can’t do this thing alone.
Is Kawhi really that good?
A lot of Toronto food and drink folk seem to think so, based on the newly launched “Kawine and Dine” program where participating restaurants have offered the superstar free food for life if he stays in Toronto. (Note: They stand to gain a lot of business from Toronto’s status as a basketball city.) Most experts would agree he is the best ever to sport the Raptor’s jersey — better than Vince, better than Bosh. His trade (in exchange for Demar Derozan, who has some thoughts on being thrown under the bus) is seen as the reason the Raptor’s have (finally!) ascended to the finals. Here’s a piece from the Washington Post on whether Kawhi or Steph Curry or Kevin Durant currently holds the “best in the league” title. As for whether he’ll stay after become eligible for free-agent status post-season: People have been assuming he’ll go back to California, but (this just in!) reports that Kawhi recently bought a house in Toronto tell a different story. Plus he apparently signed up for a Hudson’s Bay Points Card, which is about as Canadian as it gets.
What else should I be watching for?
The Raptors’ defense strategy in Game 3 could be interesting. Flash back to the clinching basket of GSW’s Game 2 victory made by Andre Iguodala. The veteran forward only got a clear shot because not one, not two, but three different Raptors all guarding Steph Curry. Was it a bad call? Hard to say. But according to Curry (who gave an interview after the game), it was “disrespectful.” Which frankly, sounds a little precious (and maybe a strategy to shame us out of guarding his ass in Game 3). Besides — he called our fourth quarter defense “janky” so who’s disrespectful now, Steph?
Final question: Where can I watch the game?
Head to one of the many new Jurassic Park outposts that have popped up all over the GTA and the country. (You’ll want to get there early. And bring your giant novelty Drake head.) Pretty much every bar in the country will be playing the game. For home viewing, the Raptors tweeted this handy guide. There are also various subscription streaming services and backdoor methods (which we have no idea about).