The Portland Trail Blazers’ overtime win over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night injected a dose of hope into an otherwise rocky season. Jusuf Nurkic played amazingly. Damian Lillard hit the game-winner in OT. It was everything Portland fans could have hoped for.
Today Anthony Slater of The Athletic described the game from Golden State’s point of view [subscription required] and indicated that the Warriors’ relatively poor performance wasn’t an anomaly, nor were Portland’s tactics peculiar to them.
Slater tabbed Golden State forward Draymond Green as part of the issue:
The Blazers, like the Lakers and Jazz before them, told Green’s defender to stray away without concern, either roaming the paint in help or double teaming the ballhandler if Green screened.
The Warriors spent the past two days planning an adjustment strategy, but none of it worked in a nightmare second quarter, when the Blazers ignored Green on every possession he was in the game and the awkwardness of the 5-on-4 advantage led to weird moments like the two below, one a Green turnover, the other a terribly missed floater.
Slater relayed that the Warriors are working to counter the advantage in a couple ways, including using Green as a screener.
Slater also mentioned the amazing performance of Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic.
One game after Ivica Zubac overpowered the Warriors frontline for 18 points and 11 big rebounds in 31 minutes, Jusuf Nurkic punished them for 27 and 12 on Thursday night, including a few of the night’s biggest hoops.
That’s been a common theme this past month. Rudy Gobert was terrific in the Jazz win over the Warriors recently and Steven Adams killed them earlier this month.
Bigger centers have been a problem and it’s not hard to see why. Kevon Looney, while skilled and helpful in certain areas, isn’t big or bulky enough to hold off the league’s brutes. The team’s biggest body, Damian Jones, is out with a torn pec and Jordan Bell is in the middle of a hugely disappointing sophomore season.
He also reminded readers that the debut of DeMarcus Cousins is on the way. The article is worth your time in the midst of a Blazers-Warriors back-to-back.