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Preview: Warriors aim to break the Game 3 playoff jinx

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Golden State lost every Game 3 in the 2016 playoffs, including one in Portland. Will that streak end tonight?

NBA: Playoffs-Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry makes a high percentage of shots this close to the basket.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information

Golden State Warriors (lead 2-0) vs. Portland Trail Blazers

How to watch

Date: Saturday April 22, 2017

Time: 7:30pm PST

Location: Moda Center — Portland, OR

TV: ESPN; CSN Bay Area

Radio: 95.7 THE GAME

Injury report

Last updated 4/21/17

Warriors: Kevon Looney and Matt Barnes - out

Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston - questionable

Trail Blazers: Jusuf Nurkic - doubtful

Tim Quarterman - out

Can the Warriors win a Game 3?

Heading into tonight’s Game 3 against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Golden State Warriors have lost six of their last seven Game 3s in the playoffs. And before those games, only an astounding fourth quarter comeback that forced overtime in New Orleans saved the Warriors from another Game 3 loss in 2015.

Granted, these were all road games. But the Warriors won six out of eight Game 4s in 2015 and 2016, which were also away games. What is it about Game 3 for the Dubs? Do the Warriors relax once they’re done “defending our ground” #defendourgroundnottobeconfusedwithdefendtheland at Oracle in the first two games of a series?

A quick review of each of these six Game 3 losses shows one consistent trend: losing the first half of the game. The Dubs often recovered to some extent by winning the second half of these games, but not enough to overcome the halftime deficit. If the Warriors come out swinging in the first half tonight, that will be a great sign.

There are other important factors in each Game 3 loss. For example, the Cleveland Cavaliers vastly improved their defense in Game 3 of the Finals last year as a result of Kevin Love not playing. (If not for Love’s concussion, would the Warriors have swept the Finals in 2016?) And Stephen Curry didn’t play in the 2016 Game 3 losses to Portland and the Houston Rockets due to injuries; so it’s not as though Golden State was at full strength.

Regardless of the circumstances, at the end of the day the Warriors have a shaky Game 3 record. With Cleveland perhaps realizing after Thursday night that they are better off with Love and Kyrie Irving on the bench, Dub Nation would welcome an end to the Game 3 jinx that has haunted Golden State over the past two years.

Put the series away

If the Warriors succeed in overcoming that Game 3 jinx tonight, Portland is done. Even the most optimistic Trail Blazers fan would have to admit that the outlook is grim if the Warriors go up 3-0. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum made the best effort imaginable in Game 1 and still came up short. If their best effort wasn’t enough in that game, how could they expect to win four straight?

In a must win game, what adjustments might we expect from Portland? The Trail Blazers haven’t had success with small lineups against the Warriors, but they haven’t really had a choice to do anything else. Without the injured Jusuf Nurkic, Portland doesn’t have much size to throw at Golden State, which means JaVale McGee is going to continue dunking on fools for the remainder of the series.

Perhaps Nurkic will return to the lineup tonight and make an impact. Be forewarned that he posted great numbers against the Warriors while playing for the Denver Nuggets. But his injury has prevented him from doing much cardiovascular work while recovering, so I wouldn’t expect him to play enough minutes to get Portland past a small ball Golden State squad that loves to run.

Portland’s hopes rest again with Lillard and McCollum tonight and there’s plenty of room for improvement on their combined 9-for-34 shooting in Game 2. Playing at home with a great crowd should be a boost for the Portland backcourt.

A solid defensive effort should earn a victory

If Draymond Green leads a defensive effort similar to what we’ve seen so far in this series, the Warriors should have an easy path to victory. The Splash Brothers combined to turn the ball over 10 times and shoot just 12-for-35 in Game 2, yet Golden State won by 29 points as a result of holding Portland to 33% shooting from the field. Defense is the key to the Warriors’ success in this series and beyond.

If Kevin Durant is able to play, that’s one more reason to believe that Portland is toast. Additionally, it would be comforting to see Shaun Livingston return to the lineup to use his height in posting up and defending Lillard and McCollum. And if Patrick McCaw, Ian Clark and JaVale McGee deliver anywhere near their Game 2 performances, Blazer fans are bound to go home disappointed.

Poll

Will the Dubs put an end to the Game 3 jinx tonight in Portland?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Yep, it’s on to Sweepsville.
    (379 votes)
  • 9%
    Nope, the Dubs will let their guard down.
    (53 votes)
  • 18%
    It’s not a jinx - the Warriors have been losing intentionally to get Game 5s at Oracle. #lightyears
    (100 votes)
532 votes total Vote Now