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Warriors vs. Blazers, Game 1 final score: Golden State holds off Portland, 121-109

Fifteen remain

NBA: Playoffs-Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors took Round 1 Game 1 in an uneven effort, 121 - 109. Notes below:

Kevin Durant looks like he didn’t miss a game.

In his fourth game back, Durant put forth his best game post-injury. Each game has seen him try more athletic moves than the last. Durant has a chance to establish a real rhythm against this small Blazers team.

Andre Iguodala looks like Kevin Durant didn’t miss a game.

This is the same player who developed a psychological block on free throws for half of his career, so perhaps Iguodala just can’t get out of his own head. Either way, it looks like reports of “turn back the clock aggressive” Iguodala were vastly exaggerated.

The Blazers’ B+ offensive game is not enough on its own.

Portland’s biggest guns were firing their largest caliber bullets in synchronized fashion. McCollum and Lillard combined for 75 points on 54 FGAs (re: very good production). The dynamic duo usually contribute 50 on 38 attempts.

But their 24th-ranked defense failed to contain a Warriors attack that was out-of-sync for large swaths of the second and third quarter. Durant and Curry were allowed to find a rhythm in the disjointed game, despite an honest effort by McCollum et al. That’s a problem that Jusuf Nurkic can reportedly help.

Draymond Green should have been an MVP candidate.

A team high +15 in 37 minutes. He muddied up Blazer drives within eight feet of the basket as if he had four arms and eight hands.

McGee has earned Kerr’s trust.

I still wince every once in a while when his uncoordinated appendages cost him a rebound he could’ve grabbed. But his lob ability provides one of those ethereal impacts not captured by the box score. A team like the Warriors led by a player like Curry gets an extra pep in their step when they sniff a potential highlight play nearby. McGee is a walking highlight factory, and his positioning on defense has improved to the point where Kerr can leave him on the floor for extended stretches without getting abused.

Portland is the best team of the bottom four seeds in either conference.

That assumes Rudy Gobert remains sidelined for the First Round, and Jusuf Nurkic returns in either of the next two games. And yet...

Portland remains the preferable matchup for the Warriors.

In the vein of “iron sharpeneth iron”. Portland thrives playing in the same flow that the Warriors thrive. That’s a problem for the Blazers, since the Warriors thrive at a 73 wins level, whereas the Blazers thrive to about 50 wins.

The loose and fast style of this series will limit attrition on the frontcourt, and hopefully re-grease Klay Thompson’s shooting stroke. Playing a track meet in the First Round can be a launchpad for the Warriors, rather than a meat grinder of a series against less talented but more physical Grizzly players. In that regard, the Spurs and the Warriors may’ve landed their teams of choice in the First Round.

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