With Game One of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday, ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry broke down six signature plays of the six biggest players on both the Portland Trail Blazers and the Golden State Warriors.
Goldsberry first broke down the important Warriors plays, pointing to the three point shooting from the left and right wings from resident Splash Brothers Steph Curry and Klay Thompson respectively as being key as well as the rim attacking of forward Andre Igoudala.
From the Blazers perspective, Goldsberry highlighted three key plays: Damian Lillard’s signature off-the-dribble threes, CJ McCollum’s silky smooth midrange and Enes Kanter’s putbacks.
Goldsberry, while he still thinks Curry bests Lillard in deep three capabilities, notes that Lillard is one of the best in the league at it, with his series-winner over the Oklahoma City Thunder serving as proof of that.
Lillard’s epic buzzer-beater to finish off the Thunder was also an off-the-dribble triple, which has become his signature scoring play. Lillard attempts more than five of them per game, trailing only James Harden and Kemba Walker. But Dame hits them at higher rates than those two, sinking 36.5 percent, according to Second Spectrum.
Game Seven hero CJ McCollum has one of the best midrange jumpers in the league, and Goldsberry writes that it’ll be key in this series.
McCollum can score from anywhere. Only three of McCollum’s 37 points in Sunday’s Game 7 came from 3-point range. He was unstoppable in the paint, and the midrange is the defining element of his game.
Of the players who attempted more than 150 midrange pull-ups this season, McCollum ranked third in eFG (behind Durant and JJ Redick). McCollum’s 51.8 eFG is 14.3 percentage points better than expected for the average shooter given shot quality, per Second Spectrum tracking.
Last but not least, Kanter has been huge on offensive glass, making up for other deficiencies offensively.
Enes Kanter has emerged as Portland’s No. 3 scorer in these playoffs, posting 12.9 points per game. But unlike Lillard and McCollum, Kanter can’t shoot.
Still, he’s productive around the rim thanks to his smooth footwork and dominance on the offensive glass. Kanter is grabbing almost four offensive boards per game in the postseason, and 38 percent of his points are coming on second-chance opportunities.
Game One tips off in Oakland at 6 p.m. Pacific. You can read the whole article here.