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Raptors' confidence carries them one step closer to first NBA title

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OAKLAND — They knew they could beat them.

The Toronto Raptors had two wins over the two-time defending champions in the NBA Finals that said they could.

But why weren’t the Golden State Warriors worried? What did they know?

What did they believe?

What about being down 2-1 to the Raptors heading into Game 4 at Oracle Arena — in what could be the last game at the 70s-era icon due for demolition after the season — didn’t seem to have them bothered?

What was it Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said in the lead-up as storylines revolved around the revolving door to their training room and the sideshow of their minority shareholder Mark Stevens shoving and swearing at Kyle Lowry late in Game 3 and getting banned and fined by the NBA?

"It just feels like business as usual, honestly. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant, but the benefit of having been through five [consecutive Finals] is we have literally seen everything," Kerr said. "We have lost a 3-1 lead in a heartbreaking fashion. We have come back from 3-1 down. We have had to win a Game 7 on the road. We have been without Steph Curry for a series. We have been without Kevin Durant. We were without Klay (Thompson) last night. Our opponents have been without key players. So you can name it and we have seen it.

"So you just can’t get caught up in all of the hoopla. It’s just focus on winning the game and doing what you have to do to do so."

Part of their confidence — or at least lack of tension — stemmed from the knowledge that they were getting starter, Splash Brother and all-NBA defender Thompson back after a hamstring strain kept him out of Game 3 and — as a bonus — the news that versatile reserve big man Kevon Looney would be back from a fractured cartilage near his collarbone that was supposed to keep him out for the series.

And the rest came from the fact that they could explain away both their losses, not to mention three championships in four seasons.

In Game 1 they were rusty after nine days off, clearly. No big deal. They simply didn’t bring the focus they needed.

In Game 3 they were........

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