Just minutes before tip-off, the Golden State Warriors officially ruled out All-Star guard Klay Thompson for Game 3 of the NBA Finals. No matter how you want to rank Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, the Warriors would be without two of their best three best players. Game 3 was ripe for the Toronto Raptors picking, in the Oracle Arena where road playoff wins have been so elusive over the past five years.

The Raptors seized the opportunity, with a near wire-to-wire victory. After taking a 6-5 lead, Toronto never trailed again. Still, the game never felt out of reach for the Warriors, who can score in bunches even without Thompson and Durant. Of course, most of this scoring would come through Curry. At a point in the first quarter, Curry had 12 of his team’s 14 points, and he ended the quarter with 17 of the Warriors 29 points.

It was apparent Steph would continue to have his way with Toronto’s defense all night. So the Warriors really just needed one other player to step up. Could Draymond Green provide some offense? Could Steve Kerr switch up the playbook and get the ball in the hands of DeMarcus Cousins?

Unfortunately for the Warriors, neither of these things came to fruition. Golden State kept the game close, trailing 60-52 at halftime and cutting their deficit to 7 points multiple times in the second half. But the Warriors couldn’t stop Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Danny Green, and a surprisingly electric night from Kyle Lowry.

Lowry’s strong night prevented the Warriors from cutting the Raptors second-half lead to less than 7 (Photo: CARLOS OSORIO / TORONTO STAR)

Offensively, Leonard had an excellent effort with 30 points (9-17 FG), 7 rebounds and 6 assists. He was supported by Lowry (23 points, 9 assists, 5-9 3PT), Siakam (18 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists) and Danny Green (18 points, 6-10 3PT).

Curry had a night for the books with 47 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists on 14-31 FG/6-14 3PT. It was nothing short of a LeBron-esque performance, emulating the production James had to put in for four straight years against Golden State.

Otherwise, Green had 17 points on 6-14 FG and Andre Iguodala had 11 points, the only other Warriors in double digits.

The Raptors take a 2-1 lead and a chance to control the series. Game 4 will be huge, and almost a must-win for the Raptors even though they lead. Thompson will likely return, and Durant could conceivably be back by Game 5 or 6. Though Toronto would have home-court advantage, hosting two of the last three games if the series goes seven, a 2-2 split coming out of Golden State would still make the Finals outcome a toss-up at best, and the Warriors would likely be favored.

Though it seemed for months that the Warriors would cakewalk to another championship victory, Toronto is giving them a great fight. The story for the rest of the series will undoubtedly be the availability of superstars Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. Though the Warriors have an incredible record when Curry plays and Durant doesn’t, his presence could make a specific impact in this series, as he could go attempt to go toe-to-toe with Kawhi Leonard.

Who will win the NBA Finals? Despite taking the series lead, the Raptors are anything but comfortable. But they’re just two wins away from their first championship in franchise history.

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Header Photo Courtesy of Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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