Warriors tested by pesky Blazers

Hazel Gray
April 18, 2017

The second day of NBA Playoffs began with an exciting matchup between the number 1 seed Golden State Warriors against the offensive juggernaut, Portland Trail Blazers.

It's not clear if the Blazers could have centre Jusuf Nurkic back by then from a broken leg that saw him miss the last seven games of the regular season as well as Sunday's game.

Coach Terry Stotts needs to get creative in figuring out how to get his supporting cast good looks and, just as importantly, they are going to have to be willing to take them.

Both star point guards came to play on the first night of this series.

With the fourth quarter looming, Warriors coach Steve Kerr formulated a plan he hoped would lift his team to victory.

"I think having a guy like that on the floor raises the level of the game because I don't even trash talk", Lillard said of playing against Green. Although Kevin Durant looked wholly healthy coming off his return to action, he lessened his aggression in the second quarter. The game started competitive until Draymond Green showed the way and clamp down the Blazers offense in the fourth quarter.

After the first quarter of play, the Warriors held a 4 point lead; 41-37. Who else could do what Draymond just did tonight? If a historic outing from one of the league's hottest tandems is not enough to overcome the Warriors' defense, there probably isn't an answer.

But it's Green's irreplaceable combination of defensive prowess, versatility, tenacity and ability to score all over the floor that will decide if the Warriors take home a second ring in three years. Just like teams playing defense need to be aware of where Curry is at all times, Portland needs to be aware of Green playing free safety and be prepared to make the extra pass out of the lane when penetrating. It was an incredible effort from both players, as they picked up their level of play to match the intensity of the Warriors. As a team, the Blazers shot 43 percent from the field and 11 of 30 from the three-point line as they matched the Warriors for three quarters before getting outscored by 33-21 in the fourth quarter.

Game 2 is on Wednesday.

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As Lillard said in his post-game comments, the team that initiates physicality not only gets the benefit of the whistles, but is also more easily able to establish and maintain momentum.

Durant lays one in after Green emphatically blocks Lillard's dunk.

After much fretting over the past year about the depth of the Warriors as a outcome of signing Kevin Durant, contributions came far and wide until Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum could no longer repel it.

Although the final margin shows a comfortable Warriors win, this game was neck-and-neck for all but the final 12 minutes. "It still made some tough shots, which it is going to do".

In game one against the Blazers, Green was phenomenal - 19 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, five blocks, three steals - and couldn't stop talking trash to the Blazers.

"I thought he attacked at really important times of the game where we needed some aggression".

The jawing started early in the game after JaVale McGee was whistled for a foul on Lillard, and eventually, McCollum got involved, too.

Ian Clark also made the most of his 12 minutes on the court. As Stotts said, "I don't think it's demoralizing that we competed extremely well for three quarters". But we knew at some point you have to make them miss.

Other reports by VgToday

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