Last Updated: 2019-05-16
The Golden State Warriors highlighted why they are the best team in the NBA in Game 1. Even though the Warriors don’t have their two best big men, Golden State routed the Portland Trail Blazers by 22 points on Tuesday night. Steph Curry sunk nine threes and led all scorers with 36 points, while Klay Thompson added 26. No one from Portland cracked 20 points, as the Blazers only hit 25 percent of their threes on the evening. They will need to shoot much better in Game 2.
Rodney Hood and Damian Jones were both able to suit up in Game 1. Hood showed no ill effects after a knee injury late in Game 7 against Denver, playing 26 minutes and finishing with 17 points for Portland. Meanwhile, Jones suited up for the first time since tearing his pectoral muscle back on December 1 and played two minutes for Golden State.
Jusuf Nurkic is a long-term injury for Portland and won’t be available well into next season, but the real story is the status of Golden State’s two big men. It appears that the optimism surrounding the status of both Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins may be misplaced. Cousins has now been ruled out for Game 2 and Game 3, while Durant has been ruled out for at least one additional game. As long as Golden State keeps winning, it makes no sense to rush either player back, so if the Warriors win tonight you shouldn’t expect to see either Durant or Cousins in Game 3.
Golden State was initially an eight-point favorite in Game 2, but that has since fallen by a half-point. The Warriors are currently -7.5 at most sportsbooks. The total has yet to move, opening and remaining at 217.5.
The Warriors have been criticized for having a shallow bench this season, but they consistently got the better of the Blazers reserves in Game 1. Portland’s bench has been largely underwhelming outside of Hood throughout the postseason, and they were again on Tuesday night. Aside from Hood, the rest of the bench shot a combined 3-20 from the field in Game 1.
Enes Kanter showed why a big man can take over this series throughout his 30 minutes on the floor. Kanter grabbed 16 rebounds (five offensive), and the Blazers finished with 16 offensive rebounds as a team on the night. They shot just 36.1 percent from the floor as a team though, so they were largely unable to take advantage of their success on the glass.
Golden State’s big four (sans Durant) made all the difference in Game 1. Curry and Thompson both shot well from the floor, and Draymond Green continued to contribute in a variety of ways.
The key for Portland in Game 2 is to stop the good times for the side of Golden State. Steph Curry has a propensity to get in foul trouble, and the right kind of player can get in Draymond Green’s head. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both Lillard and McCollum both drive the lane much more often in this one to force the issue. Neither one has consistently hit from downtown in recent weeks, and McCollum especially has a great mid-range game.
I think this one will be closer, so I’m going to take Portland to cover the number. Terry Stotts is a good coach, and he will make the adjustments needed to make Portland more competitive. The Blazers will shoot better from the floor after a dreadful display in Game 1 and could even the series before it moves to Portland.
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