The Portland Trail Blazers stuck around for a while, but couldn’t slay the dragon, falling on the road 116-94 to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
Minus one Durant, Kevin, the Warriors rode the hot shooting of Stephen Curry, who torched the Blazers with 36 points, including 9 threes - more than Portland had as a team.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum both endured poor shooting nights, combining to go just 11-31 from the field, which is just not going to cut it.
A lot to improve upon all around.
Here are the basics from Oakland.
Butterfingers. After committing just four turnovers in all of Game 7 against Denver, Portland coughed up the ball six times in just the first quarter, and whopping 21 times overall against the team best equipped to punish just that. Golden State thrived in transition, and if they didn’t take the foot off the gas, probably could have had a lot more than their 22 fast break points.
Shrinking advantage. If size was an advantage the Blazers sought to exploit this series, they’ll need to quickly find a way to make it more effective, as the Warriors were prepared for it and hardly look fazed by it. Although Portland won the rebounding battle 47-42, Golden State did a good job denying easy buckets, and actually kept about even in points in the paint - something the Blazers need to win on an ideal path to victory.
The Warriors sent double-teams in the post early, forcing the ball to stay in the hands of Portland’s guards, who struggled to find room on the perimeter against the almost elastically lanky Golden State wings. Clean looks from deep were few and far between (and not really falling in the first place), so the Blazers just put their heads down and took their chances putting the ball on the floor. It kept the train chugging along, but Portland will need to be far more efficient offensively to stay alive in this series, and it’ll need to start in the post.
The Blazers will hope for better luck in Game 2 on Thursday.