Warriors

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Warriors

Programming note: Jazz-Warriors coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

OAKLAND -- The Warriors know which team they’ll face this weekend in the first round of the playoffs. They also know it’s a team with which they are not familiar.

They know the Portland Trail Blazers. They don’t know these Trail Blazers.

“They’re a different team,” Kevin Durant said Monday after shootaround.

“They’re a different team,” Draymond Green said, “since the last time we played them.”

The biggest difference in Portland is the addition of talented young center Jusuf Nurkic, who was acquired Feb. 13 in exchange for Miles Plumlee, with cash and draft considerations also a part of the deal. Nurkic is out with a mild fracture in his lower right leg but is expected to return during the postseason.

The Warriors swept the regular-season series over Portland, winning four games by an average of 19.5 points, though the last two games were decided by a total of 10. Nurkic, however, had not yet arrived. The Blazers are 14-5 with him in the lineup.

“You’re adding a guy that can score in the post, that’s a load down there on the glass, a great roller to the rim,” Durant said. “It’s different. When they had Plumlee, they were playing through him up top. To have a guy that can pass but also score in the post, we definitely got our work cut out for us.”

 

The man most responsible, along with Nurkic, for lifting the Blazers into the playoffs may be point guard Damian Lillard. The Oakland native, named Western Conference Player of the Month in March, rang up a franchise-record 59 points last Saturday against Utah.

“When you look at Damian Lillard, he’s a player that kind of likes playing with that chip on his shoulder,” Durant said. “And he thrives under pressure. He came through for them. That’s what superstar players do, and that’s what he is.”

Behind Lillard and Nurkic, the Blazers have won 17 of their last 24 games, turning around a season that seemed destined for the lottery.

“They’re playing with a lot more confidence,” Green said. “They’re feeling really good about themselves, so we definitely want to check some of their latest games out to see what they’re doing as of late.”

The No. 1 seed Warriors have at least five days to research the eighth-seeded Blazers, as Game 1 will be played Saturday or Sunday at Oracle Arena.