TORONTO (REUTERS) - The Toronto Raptors, with the support of an entire nation behind them, won the first National Basketball Association Finals game played outside the United States with a thrilling 118-109 victory over the two-time defending champions Golden State Warriors on Thursday (May 30).
Toronto were led by Cameroonian forward Pascal Siakam, who scored a play-off career-high 32 points while Golden State's sharp-shooting duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson failed to find their usual groove in opener of the seven-game series.
"Pascal had a big offensive night. I thought he played with really good composure," said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. "He got to his spots and got on balance and was patient ... He had a couple of really tough ones go in for him as well."
Toronto led by 10 points at the half and Siakam, who two years ago was playing in the NBA's development league, did his part to prevent the Warriors from closing the gap as he went a perfect 6-for-6 shooting in the third quarter.
Toronto led nearly the entire way and built a 12-point lead, their largest of the game, when Danny Green drained a three-pointer from the corner that whipped the crowd into a frenzy with 71/2 minutes to play.
The Warriors, who are trying to become the first NBA team to win three consecutive titles since the Los Angeles Lakers did it in 2002, got to within eight points but the Raptors held firm and padded their lead in the closing minutes.
"Their defence was great and it wasn't our best night, but we just got outplayed, so simple as that," said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. "Move on to the next one."
The Warriors are not too familiar with the Raptors and were largely undone by 16 turnovers and a weak transition defence that surrendered 24 fast-break points.
Toronto came out firing in their Finals debut and were not intimidated by a talent-laden Warriors team who are playing in the NBA's championship series for a fifth consecutive season.
Playing in front of a raucous crowd that included two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, the Raptors used a bevy of early three-pointers to take control and while the Warriors did well to keep it close, Toronto closed the half on a wild 19-8 run.
"I love it because the one thing that we must do in this series, that we need to do, is go for it, and that just showed our no-hesitancy, confidence, and willing to just kind of go for it," Nurse said about the early slew of three-point attempts.
Siakam also had eight rebounds and five assists. Kawhi Leonard added 23 points and eight rebounds for the Raptors, who will host Game 2 on Sunday as they compete in their first NBA Finals.
Marc Gasol scored 20 points and had seven rebounds for the Raptors before fouling out with 1min 14sec to play. Fred VanVleet added 15 points, and Danny Green contributed 11 points.
Curry led the Warriors with 34 points, Thompson added 21 points, and Draymond Green had 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
For the game, Toronto outshot Golden State from the floor 50.6 per cent to 43.6 per cent.