NBA Finals 2019: Game 1s Have Been Far Kinder to Warriors Than Raptors

The Warriors have made it to the NBA Finals in every season under Steve Kerr, so it's not very surprising to learn that Golden State has been nearly unbeatable in Game 1s throughout his tenure.

Since taking the helm at the start of the 2014-15 season, Kerr has led the Dubs to 18 victories in 19 tries in the first game of an NBA playoff series, with the only defeat coming in Game 1 of the 2016 Western Conference finals, a 108-102 loss to Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

That, of course, was the last playoff series Durant participated in before joining forces with the Warriors and winning the last two championships. This postseason, he missed the final game of Golden State's second-round series victory over the Rockets, the entire series sweep of the Trail Blazers in the conference finals and has been ruled out for at least Game 1 of The Finals against the Raptors. That bodes well for a Toronto franchise that has struggled historically in Game 1s.

Since the start of the 2015 postseason, the Raptors are just 2-9 in the first game of a playoff series, although one of those victories came just weeks ago in Game 1 of their second-round series victory over the 76ers. If you remove Game 1s played on the road, the Raptors' record improves slightly to 2-6.

In both instances in which the Raptors won Game 1 at home, they went on the prevail in the series.

Toronto had a better regular-season record than Golden State, so the Raptors have homecourt advantage. That puts the Warriors in a position they've been in just once before under Kerr -- that is, opening a series on the road.

[RELATED: Cousins 'pain free,' still questionable for Finals Game 1]

The only other time the Dubs began a playoff series on the road was the 2018 Western Conference finals, when the Warriors defeated the Rockets 119-106 in Game 1 on their way to a seven-game series victory over Houston. Of course, Durant led Golden State with 37 points in that win.

So, any way you look at it, the Warriors will be in a position they've never been in under Steve Kerr when Game 1 of the Finals tips off Thursday in Toronto. They'd love to have Durant on the court, but the Warriors know as well as anyone: It takes four victories to win the championship, not just one.

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