The Trail Blazers played brilliantly through the first three quarters of Game 1 against the Warriors, but eventually Golden State’s defense adjusted to Portland’s dynamic backcourt.
CBS Sports’ Matt Moore provided an in-depth look at what exactly the the Warriors did to slow down the Blazers in the final frame. According to Moore, those adjustments started with finding a way to relieve Steph Curry from some of his defensive obligations. Golden State did this by giving the two-time MVP the duty of guarding Portland’s less threatening offensive players.
In the second half, however, the Warriors made adjustments. They took every opportunity to switch Curry onto another weapon, even if it was a bigger wing, knowing they wouldn't get the ball anyway. They decided to start daring the other Blazers to beat them, which of course, they could not.
Along with finding a more favorable assignment for Curry, the Warriors abandoned any rotation that featured a traditional center. Moore goes on to explain the impact of that move here:
Finally, the Warriors' adjustment in the second half had to do with who they attacked with, and how. The Warriors went to smallball exclusively in the 4th quarter; neither JaVale McGee nor Zaza Pachulia logged a minute. Typically going small is supposed to hurt your defense, but in the Warriors' case it meant they could play up and aggressive on pick and rolls to keep them off the 3-point line and force them to attack inside where that help came from.
While Moore primarily focused on how the Warriors stymied the Blazers’ attack, he did provide a few solutions for Portland moving forward.
The adjustment for the Blazers will have to be McCollum and Lillard using that help to their advantage. They have to find a way to recognize it, anticipate it, and find the open man, and those players have to deliver. This is where the absence of Jusuf Nurkic really hurts the Blazers, as he could take advantage of mismatches if help from bigger players leaves him to attack the guards.
The Blazers will have to make considerable changes before Wednesday’s contest against the Warriors, or they will run the risk of finding themselves in an two-game hole upon returning to Portland for Game 3.