There was a lot talk about the Warriors being without one of their players today, but aside from the sideline interview with that injured player (what was his name again?) in the third quarter I'm not sure that anyone noticed after tip-off. Golden State came out inspired behind Klay Thompson, who proved once again that he is capable of leading a team without his usual backcourt mate.
Thompson racked up 18 points in the first quarter on the way to 37 points in 37 minutes to lead all scorers in the game, all while guarding Damian Lillard as his primary defensive assignment. Thompson scored the first points on the game on a three-pointer fading to his right and continued to find the bottom of the net all day, notching a record-extending third consecutive playoff game with seven three-pointers. Be sure to include an entry in the gratitude journal tonight for that long-term contract Thompson signed in 2014 - the man does it all.
As dominant as Thompson was on offense to start the game, Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green were equally as dominant on defense. This clip from the first quarter speaks for itself.
The Blazers responded to the Warriors' first quarter outburst by cutting the lead to as few as ten during the second quarter, primarily because the Warriors' bench struggled to contain Blazers in the paint. Portland successfully drove to the basket and secured offensive rebounds during that stretch. Anderson Varejao didn't help matters by committing fouls that led to three-point plays for the Blazers on two occasions.
However, the ship was righted once Golden State went small with Draymond playing as the center. Draymond immediately stole the ball from Mason Plumlee on the block and subsequently drew a foul on Plumlee driving to the hoop for 2 free throws. Plumlee quickly exited the game as the Warriors were off and running. While the Blazers outscored the Warriors by six in the second quarter, Golden State enjoyed a 65-51 lead at halftime.
The second half was more of the same, as the length of Shaun Livingston and Thompson alongside defensive help from Draymond bottled up Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Portland's starting backcourt ended up shooting just 13 for 43 from the field for 42 points. Lillard got hot for a few minutes in the fourth quarter, but he struggled to score driving to the basket when unable to draw fouls. Livingston repeatedly got the best of Portland's guards by shooting over them, finishing with 12 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds.
Varejao and Gerald Henderson provided a little bit of drama as they quarreled over a play in which the two collided and Varejao may or may not have whipped Henderson with his leg while falling to the ground. The two were assessed double technicals as a result of their bickering immediately following the incident and soon after received another set of techs for continuing to argue while Varejao was on the bench. It didn't appear that any of the other players really cared and we didn't see much in the way of "chippy-ness" once the two players were ejected as a result of the technical fouls.
In addition to Thompson's spectacular performance, Draymond racked up another triple-double with 23 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists. Also of note were his three blocks and nine-for-nine free throw shooting. In a great interview with Draymond after the game, he said that he is no longer tracking his stats mid-game in pursuit of triple-doubles because doing so almost lost a game against Philadelphia earlier in the year. He also credited his teammates for holding Plumlee to 1 point in the game because they had to help out when Draymond switched on to Lillard or McCollum on defense. He's a class act.
During his sideline interview, Stephen Curry sounded very optimistic about his potential return to the court in this series. He likes his chances of playing in Game 3, but the way this game went it seems like the Warriors can be patient in giving Curry's knee time to heal.
The biggest and perhaps best surprise of the game was that Mark Jackson wasn't part of ABC's announcing team for the first time in what seems like an eternity. Instead, viewers were treated to Mike Tirico and Hubie Brown. Somehow, Brown failed to credit either coach for a great timeout for the first time in Brown's announcing career. Perhaps neither coach called a truly great timeout.