Warriors dominate Blazers in Game 1 without Steph Curry: 3 things to know – CBSSports.com

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After the San Antonio Spurs dominated their second-round opponent in Game 1, the Golden State Warriors showed they were capable of making their series a laugher as well. The defending champions’ 118-106 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers came without the help of soon to be back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry. And much like they looked against the Houston Rockets at the end of the first round, it appeared that the Warriors didn’t miss him at all.

Here are three takeaways from Game 1 of Warriors-Blazers:

1. Without Steph Curry, the Warriors still looked dominant: In the final 72 minutes of Warriors-Rockets, Golden State was a plus-60 on the scoreboard. That dominance was extended through the next 48 minutes, making the Warriors a plus-72 in the past 120 minutes without Curry. That’s an insane level of execution and domination against two very talented playoff teams. With the Rockets, you understand how the lack of leadership and execution can lead to such a drubbing. With a healthy Blazers team (sans Meyers Leonard),it’s a bit of a surprise they weren’t able to find a better level of play except when the second unit was in during the first half.

Klay Thompson dropped 37 points (14-of-28 shooting, 7-of-14 from deep) in 37 minutes. Draymond Green finished with another triple-double (23 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists) as the offensive initiator for the Warriors, and Andrew Bogut ruled the paint like the T-Rex ruled the visitor center at the end of Jurassic Park. The Warriors’ starting unit showed the difference in being a surprise team exceeding expectations to get to the second round (no disrespect to Portland either, which has been a great story since January),and being a team set on a collision course with the Spurs for a historic playoff showdown.

Everybody in the Warriors’ starting lineup finished with a plus-13 or better, as Curry served as the hype man from the bench. He’d clarify coverages and decisions made during dead ball moments, and even prompted Green to flex late after an and-1 call before he eventually sank the free throw. This was the best-case scenario for the Warriors as they put away any worries that vulnerability existed without their superstar.

2. Warriors took away the Blazers’ backcourt and the 3-point line: During the regular season, Portland lit up the 3-point line against the Warriors. Even though Golden State dominated three of the four games they played, the Blazers were still able to knock down deep shot after deep shot against the second-best 3-point defense in the NBA. During the regular season, the Warriors allowed 33.2 percent from downtown. During their four games against the Blazers, they allowed an insane 46.3 percent from distance. That shooting excellence didn’t exist in Game 1 and a lot of it had to do with how the Warriors’ size took away good opportunities from the Blazers’ dynamic backcourt.

Before the game, Steve Kerr said he didn’t know if you could take advantage of the Blazers’ backcourt, and cited it as one of the top guard combinations in the NBA. But with the size of Livingston (6-foot-7) and Thompson (6-foot-7) trying to corral Damian Lillard (6-foot-3) and C.J. McCollum (6-foot-4),they were able to pester shot attempts and deny them completely due to their advantages in strength and length.

The Blazers were just 10-of-31 (32.3 percent) from deep, and the combination of Lillard and McCollum went for 42 points on 13-of-43 from the field. Lillard eventually broke through thanks to a couple of 3s and trips to the free-throw line, but McCollum was stymied all game long. A fadeaway jumper from the baseline just inside the 3-point corner a few minutes into the fourth quarter, followed by a couple of relatively meaningless late buckets, seemed like a moral victory for the Lehigh University product.

Prior to the series, you wondered if the shooting of the Blazers could hold up to the intensity of the Warriors’ defense in the playoffs. After one game in the series, it hasn’t.

3. Everything the Warriors did seems entirely replicable for the rest of the series: That’s the scary thing about what the Warriors did in Game 1 without Curry: You don’t look at what anybody on this team did and think it was an outlier performance. Early in the game, the Blazers seemed intent on trying to trick the Warriors into trips to the free-throw line or layup attempts because at least it would be worth fewer points than those 3-point attempts that Thompson was shredding them with in the first quarter. In the process, the Warriors managed to get into the rhythm they want on the floor.

Post-ups for Green and Livingston turned into ball movement and cutting off the ball to find easy opportunities. Thompson killed the Blazers’ guards all over the floor but didn’t have one of those 37-point quarters; he managed “just” a 37-point performance. Although becoming the first player in NBA history to hit seven or more 3-pointers in three straight playoff games is special considering nobody had done back-to-back games prior to Klay.

Green’s triple-doubles aren’t taken for granted but they’re not as surprising as they once were. Harrison Barnes was one of the top rebounders in the game, but it makes sense when you see the ways in which the Blazers tried to go small to match what the Warriors are capable of doing.

The Warriors just played their brand of basketball and the Blazers couldn’t keep up for the time being. It doesn’t project a quick series because Terry Stotts will adjust, come back, and the Blazers’ offense will click at some point. They didn’t get going against the Clippers until they found their way back to Portland for Games 3 and 4. Maybe that happens in this series too.

A sidelined Steph Curry likes what he sees in Game 1 against the Blazers. (USATSI)
A sidelined Steph Curry likes what he sees in Game 1 against the Blazers. (USATSI)

Warriors dominate Blazers in Game 1 without Steph Curry: 3 things to know – CBSSports.com