TORONTO (KRON) — The first NBA Finals outside the U.S. have tipped off, with Jordan Bell doing the honors for Golden State.
DeMarcus Cousins was active and available after recovering from a torn left quadriceps, but coach Steve Kerr opted to go with Bell as his starting center – or centre, as it’s spelled in Toronto. Kerr says he expects he will have to use Cousins in shorter stints in his first game since getting hurt in the first round.
Andre Iguodala was also back in the Warriors’ lineup after missing the last game of the Western Conference finals with left calf tightness.
The Golden State Warriors are 2,500 miles away and in another country.
But that won’t stop them from doing what they do best — winning.
The Warriors take on the Raptors at 6 p.m. local time Thursday in Toronto for Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Fans are still gathering at Oracle Arena in Oakland as the team hosts a watch party.
The Warriors are making history as they play their fifth-straight NBA Finals, and they are heavy favorites to win their third straight title.
Don’t expect to see KD tonight, but Boogie has been cleared to play.
It’s the first time the finals will be played outside the U.S., a refreshing change after a record four straight seasons of the same matchup.
“Different for us obviously, having been in Cleveland four straight years, but this is more the rule. That was the exception,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “You’re not supposed to go to the finals four straight years and you’re definitely not, if you’re lucky enough to do that, you’re not supposed to play the same team four straight years.
“This is more what the finals normally feel like, where you’re going against a team you frankly don’t know that well and that you haven’t seen that often over the previous few years.”
Stephen Curry lived in Toronto when his father Dell played for the Raptors at the end of his career, but otherwise it’s a new feeling even for these Warriors, who are one of the most championship-experienced teams in NBA history.
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