Luke Walton's starters scored 32 points in the 1st quarter while shooting over 60%. The Blazers matched the Dub's tempo and physicality, executing their own offense with an efficient blend of accurate shooting behind effective screens, and capitalizing on their passing game under a clean Terry Stotts offense.
The cerebral coach's young team played a physical brand of basketball, out-rebounding the Warriors 48 to 38, while forcing Golden State to commit 18 turnovers.
The porous defense of the Warriors allowed the Blazers to punch holes in them for the first two quarters of the game. Portland scored 38 points in the 1st quarter, 39 in the 2nd.
Here are some personal takeaways I had from individual player performances:
Allen Crabbe. He's a smooth athlete who seems to be very gifted pulling up off the dribble and reading screens. He was 7-8 on field goals 20 feet or beyond, and made all 5 of his 3 point shots, with the exception of a 56-footer he took at the end the 2nd quarter. He is a great complementary piece alongside the shifty, powerful Damian Lillard, who went 3-18 tonight from the field in 28 minutes.
Lillard can make his living on the drive against any defense, and the newly installed kick-out option of Crabbe enhances his effectiveness.
Photo by Sam Forencich
Tim Frazier. He played great defense and logged a couple of steals, most notably picking Steph Curry in the first half and taking it coast to coast for an assist to the hot shooting Crabbe. He came in the game for Lillard and C.J. McCollum, logging 6 assists in 20 minutes. Frazier bolsters Portlands depth in a strong guard rotation.
C.J. McCollum. C.J. was aggressive throughout the game, seeing a game-high 28 minutes for the Blazers and scoring 19 points, just shy of a 50% clip. McCollum and Crabbe are young scorers who bookend Lillard's premiere offense. C.J. can create his own shot, and will be experimenting under Stotts as Portland's back up point guard. Look for him to take a bigger role this season as their primary 3rd guard. The Blazers went on a 11-3 while McCollum ran the point.
Portland's Bigs. They're long and physical. Ed Davis had 7 rebounds in 10 minutes. Meyers Leonard is a very mobile center, and should play well with their guards. Portland may have lost Aldridge, but they're certainly not lacking in their versatility and ability to fill up the lane. They did a good job gang rebounding, and kept the pace of the game in Portland's control. Stotts understands the strengths and weaknesses of this Blazers team, and used his assortment of size to capitalize the game plan and bruise the paint.
Stephen Curry. Steph started off very strong, but also had some ugly moments. His 30 points on 6-11 shooting from beyond the arc highlighted his performance more than his mishaps. He's in top condition, and kept Lillard at bay while dishing out 7 assists to his two turnovers. Curry torched a 26 footer off of a Draymond feed to start the game. A couple plays later, he pulled down a defensive rebound and gunned a beautiful 65-foot pass to a streaking Green that inspired some awes.
Curry also turned the ball over to Frazier and Plumlee, each TO resulting in a fastbreak score. He was visibly frustrated late in the game after a short string of misses and hitting three duds from the foul line — something that never happened once in a game last season. But collectively, a strong shooting performance for a guy who usually starts off the season relatively cold.
Klay Thompson. Despite being unable to stop the opposing guard, Klay shot a good game and showed patience distributing the ball. He hit Curry for a corner three in the 2nd half off a very crisp pass. He's getting more patient as a playmaker, allowing things to develop and focusing on the right play. He looked comfortable. He managed to finish in the plus category despite his 3 turnovers, and only logged one rebound in 24 minutes. I thought he hit a very impressive contested layup late in the game. Beautiful touch on the finger roll despite the contact. He finished with 14 points on 5-11 shooting.
Marreese Speights. He looked bad. Speights went 0-5 in 11 minutes, and pulled two boards. He was flustered with the ball in his hands, and was impatient making decisions. Speights got beat in the post by Davis and Kaman on a couple of lackluster efforts. Whether it was giving up early, deep position or eating fakes, he lost. On one occasion, he gave Kaman about two steps of space as Chris faced up with the ball from maybe 14 feet away. Kaman simply pulled up and drained the shot, as he'll do, and Mo was unable to get a hand up in time.
During a Blazers run late in the 3rd, Speights caught the ball on the right elbow and put his back to the defender. After a quick read, he carelessly floated a pass back out to the perimeter that was deflected for a pop up. During the battle for the essential jump ball, instead of coming towards the fray, he rolled away to the rim, assuming that the Warriors would regain the possession. He didn't log a turnover, but narrowly escaped about three throughout the game. In the 4th quarter, he pulled a defensive rebound and started the break himself. About two dribbles into it, he made a very careless pass that was nearly intercepted by Frazier and taken the other way for a dunk. Two of his shot attempts were ill-advised and closely defended.
Mo Buckets will need to clean up his game a bit with the arrival of polished vet Jason Thompson, and the upcoming James Michael McAdoo. It's a contract year, after all.
Harrison Barnes. Barnes had a few offensive plays where he showed some initiative and smoother mechanics on his shot — notably his corner three in the first quarter. It was beautiful. He also hit a nice mid-range jumper drifting left around a Draymond screen.
But at this point, Barnes does not look like a player who should earn max money. I watched Pat Connaughton of Notre Damme smoke him all the way to the rim for a quick lay-in. Barnes finished 2-6 and managed to edge out in the plus category, but overall stuck to his invisible man routine.
Leandro Barbosa. He was doing his thing. He'll be fine. He took a lot of unnecessary jump shots, but I think his approach was more about testing the waters and getting his outside game under him. He made a few double clutch shots from within 13 feet that were pretty nice. His driving game still looks just as effective as it did last season. He wasn't playing good team ball on offense, at one point shooting 3 times in the same possession, haha ... but hey, Barbosa is counted on to come in and be a wrecking ball. He's going to need his reps while they don't count, even if they're ill-advised.
Jason Thompson. He flared out and set a gorgeous screen for Curry, one play. Steph could have counted to 10 before releasing the shot and he still would have been open. Outstanding execution. Thompson is a very fundamental player who gets the most out of his size. I was watching him position for rebounds. Very solid. There aren't many bigs who would make for a better safety net. He's dependable.
Walton ran two back-to-back plays for him. The first was a pick and pop that left him open for a jumper on the left elbow. He was open, but missed the shot. The 2nd was an almost identical play, but this time from the right elbow. The shot was a bit more contested, and also missed. That's alright. They were just calling his number a couple times, and he did his part in a limited span of 15 minutes. He finished with 7 rebounds, made two trips to the line, and finished with a -17 rating. It was an underwhelming debut, but he's a smart, team player who fits in with his versatility and size.
Andrew Bogut. I'm honestly expecting Bogut to be a top 5 center this year. That might seem like a premature ejaculate of hope, but I haven't seen him look this good since he won All-NBA honors. The Aussie is down to a strong 245 pounds and built like a big cat. Watching him pick up Leonard 25 feet away, off the ball, was impressive. Extremely nimble. He's moving like someone who can get our own Bay Area lob city started, and that's something you should be excited about.
Photo by Sam Forencich
Bog's scored three times in the first quarter. His first shot was impressive. Curry took a Bogut hand-off at the top of the circle and met with a trap on the sideline after Andrew flashed the screen. He lobbed a short pass over the top, back to Bogut, who caught it and immediately went into a low dribble towards the approaching Meyers Leonard. He faked his momentum like he was going to do a power move into his defender, and then pushed off his inside foot to jump away instead, finishing with a feathery left hook. It looked extremely fluid...more than anything I've seen him shoot in his time here; and quick.
Bogut went 4-4 from the floor, collected 4 rebounds, blocked 3 shots, dished three assists, logged a steal, and finished with a +15 rating in 21 minutes.
James Michael McAdoo. He did some things very well. He impressed in the same ways he has been: converting a few tough finishes inside, hanging, controlling, absorbing contact. He just uses his body so well protecting the ball and is patient; gathering his power under him amidst crowds of defenders, knowing best when to surface. It's his unique gift. He has an uncanny sense of timing, and it's a huge weapon when paired with his kind of physical ability.
He also showed a nice pass. James caught the ball in the high/short corner of the post and waited for the cutter coming down the middle. The touch on the pass was soft, subtle, and perfect. He's untested, but he's smart and unselfish, and you tend to get quality shots out of him when he's in there. Most of his attempts have a high foul probability, due simply to the fashion in which they're attempted. He's willing to pass up a good shot for a better one. He just fits in.
Brandon Rush. I felt bad for Brandon tonight. His hands looked like they were made of stone as he bumbled passes, and his handle looked loose. But I must say: his shot looked like it did have legs under it, despite only converting....nothing. But seriously, some of his misses were "good" misses. His shot isn't as flat as it was last year. Rush couldn't keep a handle on the ball and turned it over twice in 14 minutes.
He missed both of his three-pointers, but collected three rebounds and rotated very well on defense. To his credit, he looks like he's in good to great shape. He is still a good individual defender who does not miss assignments. Rush was beat by Damian Lillard for a driving AND-1, but I still feel like Brandon did the right thing. Draymond was waiting baseline to help, and Rush merely herded Lillard into the teeth of the help. The whistle happened to blow and Damian just made a tough shot.
Festus Ezeli. He looked totally lost out there. It's Festus, so he's always effective just by the kind of force he brings, physically. But he looked so out of place at times. I'll chalk it up to excitement, but he reeked. He wasn't able to do anything on offense.
Twice, he caught the ball and made a move before really understanding the situation. He didn't turn it over, but every time Festus takes a precarious dribble in traffic, the Warriors are fortunate not to log a turnover with his name on it. Ezeli still needs to cook a little. I'm expecting him to start hitting his stride around late December. He's not that far off, he just needs those miles of application to practice what he's learned.
Festus finished with no points, missing both of his FG attempts, and earned a -12 rating in just 10 minutes of action.
Shaun Livingston. He didn't look so hot. He turned the ball over twice to match his assist total. The good news that you can take from this game, is that he attacked the rim a couple of times aggressively, something we've seen him go long stretches without doing. It's important that he establishes this mindset early, because when Livingston drives on a smaller guy, good things will happen. And even though Shaun got pinned to the glass on one of his attempts, you'd much rather see him trying to be S-Dot instead of S-Not.
Andre Iguodala. Look, we all know that Iguodala is going to shoot you out of some possessions. It's going to piss you off something terrible. But he's still a top 10 defender in the league and possibly the most versatile player on the team...and that counts for much more. After watching him bat away an on-ball steal, you'll remember his worth. That afterthought came in handy tonight while I was watching him whiff fade-aways. The Finals MVP turned it over three times, pulled nary a rebound, dished zero assists, and went scoreless in 15 minutes.
But that's quite alright. Andre's beard was his biggest news tonight. It's appropriate that AI is getting his grind on, as that's precisely what the Warriors will need to do if they want to repeat.
Draymond Green. He looked infused tonight with an eagerness towards efficient aggression. His shot is clearly gaining more respect around the league. In the first quarter, Green caught the ball on the wing and gave an eyebrow fake. His defender left his feet and Draymond went all the way. He crushed the rim and did a chin up. Green, (4-7 FGs) scored three times in the paint, and nailed a three pointer in the corner. He battled for eight rebounds in just 21 minutes, and took away two steals while assisting his teammates with a tally of four total.
Ben Gordon vs. Ian Clark. Gordon committed three turnovers during one of the ugliest stretches of the game. Although one can assume that the most decisive battles between the two shooters is going on behind practice doors, the veteran Gordon looked unstable in his performance at the Moda Center tonight. Gordon did sink a deep jumper, and it looked sweet. I've always admired is high, overhead release and how much elevation he gets on it. He shot over 43% last season in catch and shoot situations from deep. But the Warriors should go with the younger guy in Clark.
Ian composed himself well tonight. He missed a pair of contested layups, but also sank both of his attempted threes. He has an interesting shot. His release has a lot of forward momentum, and looks blockable, so it's imperative how he gets it off so quick. He's not afraid and looks to make plays. I thought he was determined on defense...mistaken at times, but determined.
I remember the first year he was in the summer league with the Warriors. I was disappointed that they cut him that year, as he obviously had some unique offensive talents. He could be awesome in a small-ball lineup with Curry and Thompson for stretches.
Luke Walton. I thought the team looked utterly lost at times, particularly the second unit lineups. The veterans were undisciplined, and key players participated in some key stupidity. Livingston, Iguodala, and Speights all stank! I'm not sure if this is a testament to Steve Kerr's absence, as much as it was guys testing the waters, ring rust, and an eagerness to get back on the racetrack. Hopefully it's the latter.
I did like some of Walton's lineups. I'm sure they were all ordained from the blond, but it was interesting to see how some of the bigs mix in with the guards, especially Thompson and McAdoo.