The Portland Trail Blazers arguably needed to do at least four things in order to beat the Golden State Warriors in any given game in the 2019 Western Conference Finals.
You’d figure that for Portland to win, they’d have to hope for Steph Curry to get in foul trouble, get a big game from C.J. McCollum, win the battle of the benches and not only win the rebounding battle but also turn their statistical advantage into second chance points.
Although Rodney Hood (17 points) did give the Blazers good minutes off the bench, none of those other things happened in Game 1. And ultimately, even though the Warriors brought their February Sunday matinee energy for much of this game, they had enough to keep the Blazers at bay after an early deficit and cruise to a 116-94 win.
The elder Curry leads the way
Steph Curry scored 14 of his game-high 36 points in the third quarter to help the Warriors maintain a lead in the second half despite the Blazers going on a run. The Blazers simply never figured out how to guard Curry playing in the high pick-and-roll and he killed them with it all night.
8 3s and counting for Stephen Curry... pic.twitter.com/CweCcj95cD— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) May 15, 2019
Despite Curry hitting four of his nine threes in the third quarter, the Blazers cut a 17-point lead to 6 and seemed to be threatening a seeming s
With Curry’s flurry helping the Warriors withstand the Blazers’ third quarter run, Klay Thompson took a leading role in the fourth quarter and scored 12 of his 26 points in the final period. Quinn Cook played admirably for the Warriors as well, scoring all eight of his points in the fourth quarter to help bury the Blazers. Beyond that, increased defensive intensity compared to the third sealed the deal.
Splash Brothers outplayed Blazers’ backcourt
The defining feature of the first half was the Warriors’ All-Star backcourt thoroughly outplaying the Blazers’ backcourt duo. While Steph Curry led the Warriors to their 54-45 halftime lead with 19 points on 6-for-12 shooting and two dazzling threes near the end of the second quarter, Portland’s Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum had a combined 19 points on 5-for-16 from the field. With their backcourt struggling, the Blazers were only able to muster up a 32.6% shooting performance in the first half.
Once again, Enes Kanter was literally in the paint when Steph Curry hit the 3 pic.twitter.com/DKbOcYvooR— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) May 15, 2019
Steph Curry is unfair, he literally just turned, pulled up and nailed this three... pic.twitter.com/ALHCG96Dcc— Chris Montano (@gswchris) May 15, 2019
Turnovers also played a big part of the first half outcome and, thankfully, it wasn’t the Warriors who were getting hurt by them this time despite the February effort. Lillard had 5 of Portland’s 13 first half turnovers, which the Warriors converted into 20 points off turnovers. The Blazers were 30th in the NBA this season in opponent turnover percentage so it should hardly be a surprise that the Warriors didn’t struggle on that front, but giving the Warriors that many extra scoring opportunities is a recipe for disaster.
Blazers will make adjustments, but don’t seem to have enough
Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 19 points and C.J. McCollum had 17, but they finished the game shooting a combined 11-for-31. Lillard finished with 7 of Portland’s 21 turnovers — those turnovers led to 31 Warriors points. McCollum was just 7-for-19 and scored 8 of his 17 points in the third quarter — he was basically a non-factor for the rest of the game. Enes Kanter had a double-double with a game-high 16 rebounds to go with 10 points, but the Blazers weren’t able to turn their rebounding advantage into a significant advantage in second chance points.
Ultimately, this game just came down to the Blazers not doing enough to overcome a Warriors’ onslaught. And this was not at all the Warriors’ best effort.
And again, Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins are still working their way back into action.
Game 2 will be on Thursday night at 6 p.m. PST with the Warriors trying to take a 2-0 lead in the series.