OAKLAND, Calif. — With 3:21 left in the second quarter and the Warriors ahead 43-42, the momentum was quickly shifting. The Trail Blazers had just brought a 16-point first-half deficit to within one point after Evan Turner connected on his first shot of the night, a spot-up three-pointer at the top of the key.
The Warriors needed a bucket to stop the bleeding and Patrick McCaw was there to halt the hemorrhaging.
The rookie swing-man got his first career playoff start in place of Kevin Durant, who sat out with a strained calf. McCaw eased into a 27-foot three-pointer that turned out to be the most important basket of the night for the Warriors. Draymond Green delivered a perfectly placed pass from the low-block right into the shooting pocket of McCaw, who knocked it down with the silky smooth confidence one might expect from a seasoned NBA veteran.
From that point forward, the Warriors outscored the Blazers 46-to-18 by the end the third quarter and eradicated the Blazers’ chances of a Game 2 comeback.
“Pat’s one of those guys where he doesn’t show that he’s overly confident, because he’ll never say anything,” said a delighted Draymond Green after Golden State’s 110-81 dismantling of the Portland Trail Blazers. “But he’s one of those guys that you don’t have to instill confidence in.”
McCaw scored 9 points and snatched 5 rebounds in a team-high 34 minutes. The 2016 second-round pick played tremendous defense the entire night and helped to limit the NBA’s highest scoring backcourt to just 26 points on 9-of-34 shooting from the field.
“He stepped in great for us, he was big for us tonight,” continued Green. “Obviously, you don’t expect him to come in and beat Kevin Durant. But he came in, was solid, made plays for ourselves [Green and JaVale McGee], made plays for others, and he got a lot of deflections on the defensive end which was key also.”
McCaw attributed his and his teammates’ Game 2 success on Portland’s Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum to the Warriors’ defensive intensity and the coaching staff’s detailed film preparation.
“That helps me out a lot, just focusing in on knowing what they like to do and what moves they like to do so I’m able to slide my feet,” McCaw told reporters. “The biggest thing is the film breakdown that the coaches do.”
McCaw’s instincts on the court would grab the attention of any basketball talent evaluator. His game bears numerous similarities to that of Andre Iguodala, minus the bulging muscles and brazen athleticism.
Much like Iguodala, McCaw has an innate ability to move his feet and understand where he needs to be on defense. He has quick hands and impeccable timing; he’s able to jump the passing lane in the blink of an eye. On offense, he operates with a calmness that can be tough to come by for a player with his 6’7” frame.
The Warriors held the Blazers to just 35 points in the second half and registered a defensive rating of 77.7 for the game. Without Kevin Durant, Shaun Livingston or Matt Barnes, Golden State still managed to limit Portland to just 33.3% shooting from the field and 20.6% from behind the arc.
Head coach Steve Kerr hopes to have everyone back at full strength by Game 3 on Saturday. Regardless, it does not appear that the series will go past Game 4 next Monday, which would give the Warriors multiple days of rest heading into their second-round matchup against either the Utah Jazz or Los Angeles Clippers.