TORONTO -- Stopping the Golden State Warriors isn't easy. What does make it easier, though, is having tried to do it before.
The Raptors went through their final light practice before the bright lights of NBA Finals media day shine on them Wednesday; Game 1 of the league's championship round takes place at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday night. And as they prepare for the challenge of trying to stop Golden State in this series, they have the added benefit of four key players -- Green, Kawhi Leonard, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka -- who have played against the Warriors in the playoffs.
That institutional knowledge is something the Raptors will hope to use to their advantage as they attempt to construct a game plan that will slow down the two-time defending NBA champions.
"It helps, in terms of knowing how great they are as an offensive team," Ibaka said. "Sometimes it's tough when you don't know, and you just go out there and play with the flow of the game. [Then] they are going to beat you so bad.
"The fact we already know how great they are -- not good, great -- that helps. That helps us to be prepared mentally, and then watch tape to try to figure out what to do."
It's one thing to try to figure out what to do on tape. It's something else entirely to go out on the court and do it. Even when Golden State is playing at less than its best -- like it did for large stretches of the Western Conference finals against the Portland Trail Blazers -- the Warriors still can ramp up their intensity level in an instant and go on a double-digit run in what seems like a blink of an eye.
It is that ability to overwhelm an opponent that makes them so difficult to stop. Well, that and a collection of superstars, from Stephen Curry to Klay Thompson to Draymond Green, being on the court at the same time -- even as another, Kevin Durant, waits in reserve as he continues to recover from a calf strain.
According to Gasol, stopping the Warriors will come down to patience and adjustments.
"They do a great job with their positioning on the floor, their passing, their counteractions, the second, third counter." Gasol said, "They see the scheme and they have a counter for that scheme. It's a multiple-effort game.
"You know Steph and Klay are gonna make shots. You can count on that. The other guys, you have to keep them under control."
Ibaka's explanation was even simpler.
"Just don't be lazy against them," Ibaka said. "The way they play, they try to make you fall asleep out there -- and then you see Steph out there and he's going to keep going and then you fall asleep and then he keeps going and gets a wide-open 3.
"They just keep moving. It's nonstop. [Steph] and Klay and Draymond, the way they push the ball out there, it's one of those teams where you have to be focused for 48 minutes. You can't relax, because if you relax, and they get hot, it's going to be a long night."
Toronto's defense has been outstanding throughout the playoffs, flummoxing both the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks in series that often resembled rock fights more than basketball games. If the Raptors hope to shock the world and beat the Warriors and claim the first championship in franchise history, they're going to need to remain at the level defensively -- if not jump up another one.
To do so, they'll be leaning heavily on the institutional knowledge of their core players who have been on the playoff stage against Golden State.
"It's going to be a tough challenge for us," Ibaka said. "But we are here for a reason.
"We proved we are a good defensive team, and now it's a new challenge for us and we are going to figure it out and go out here and play."