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WCF: Trail Blazers vs. Warriors Game 3 Preview

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Portland looks to defend its home turf after being stunned in Game 2.

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NBA: Playoffs-Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Golden State Warriors (Series: 2-0, Golden State)

May 18, 2019 - 6:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Jusuf Nurkic (out)
Warriors injuries: Kevin Durant (out), DeMarcus Cousins (out)
How to watch on TV: ESPN
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Golden State of Mind

The Portland Trail Blazers had every opportunity to silence their critics and steal a game on the home floor of the reigning NBA champions. Instead they fell to pieces, and now need to hold serve on their own home floor.

The Blazers did nearly everything right in the first half of Game 2, taking a 15-point lead into halftime. They even held an eight-point lead halfway through the fourth quarter. Both leads evaporated due to forced shots and ugly defense. CJ McCollum had 22 points, but missed four shots with under four minutes to play. Damian Lillard led the team with 23 points, but he could not hoist a game-tying three as the Blazers fell 114-111.

Adjustments for Game 3

  • Balance the defense. In Game 1, the Blazers allowed the Warriors’ shooters to get plenty of space to fire off threes and paid for it. In Game 2, the Blazers emptied the paint entirely to press the shooters, leaving cutters to go two-on-one near the rim for easy dunks. There is a middle ground between the two extremes. Portland needs to find it, and quickly.
  • Push the advantage. This is becoming a recurring problem. Portland had a 17-point lead early in the second half. However, the team stopped pushing and settling for shots while not showing the same aggressiveness on defense that had gotten them that lead. Golden State scored 41 in the period en route to tying the game. The Blazers are facing one of the best three-point shooting teams in NBA history. No lead is safe.
  • Do not get demoralized. Social media response to the Blazers’ collapse was one of doom and gloom. Portland threw their best punch, but Golden State took in on the chin and immediately countered. Even hardcore fans questioned if that was the Blazers’ chance to stay in the series. The team needs to ignore that. Golden State took two at home; Portland can certainly do the same.

What they’re saying

Joe Viray of Golden State of Mind broke down how the Warriors rallied in Game 2:

Reality started to set in for the Warriors. Yes, this Portland team, on paper, was inferior in more ways than one. Despite the absence of Durant, the Warriors had plenty of tools at their disposal, and it was those very same tools that allowed them to dissect the hapless Blazers.

Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote how Oracle Arena rallied the Warriors when they needed the fans most:

Oracle hasn’t been much of a showcase for the Warriors in its final days. Not in the regular season, when the Warriors often were oddly listless at home. And there hasn’t been a great vibe in the building for most of these playoffs.