Warriors

Warriors' blowout win in Game 1 wasn't all bad for Trail Blazers

Warriors' blowout win in Game 1 wasn't all bad for Trail Blazers

OAKLAND -- Billed as a battle of David vs. Goliath, Game 1 of the Western Conference finals went exactly how you would have expected. The veteran, experienced team got out ahead and held off their young challenger throughout the evening.

The Portland Trail Blazers pulled to within six to start the fourth quarter, but then it was all Warriors. Golden State pulled away for an easy 116-94 victory to take a 1-0 series lead.

It wasn’t all bad, but the Blazers have some glaring issues they need to work out before Game 2 on Thursday evening.

Here are two positives and two negatives that the Trail Blazers can take away from their loss in Game 1:

POSITIVES

Hood Plays

Rodney Hood came into Game 1 questionable with a hyperextended left knee. Not only did he play, but he made a very nice contribution.

The veteran wing finished the game with 17 points on 4-for-8 shooting off Portland’s bench. He knocked down two 3-pointers and shot a perfect 7-for-7 from the free-throw line.

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are the straw that stirs the Blazers' drink, but in order to beat the Warriors, coach Terry Stotts needs major contributions from players like Hood, Moe Harkless, Seth Curry and Al-Farouq Aminu.

Hood needs to repeat this performance a few more times if Portland is going to have a shot.

Freebies

Portland was outshot from the field, outshot from behind the arc and lost the turnover battle 21-14. Somehow they still managed to stay in the game until a late fourth-quarter barrage by the two-time defending NBA champions.

One of the primary reasons was due to Portland’s ability to get to the foul line and make their freebies. They were the aggressors in the paint and the refs called the game accordingly.

Portland knocked down 27-of-31 from the line, outscoring the Warriors by 12 points at the charity stripe.

NEGATIVES

Kanter on the Perimeter

The acquisition of Enes Kanter worked out tremendously for the Trail Blazers in the second half of the season and into the postseason. But his limitations as a defender on the perimeter make him nearly unplayable against certain players.

Steph Curry called for and got the screen on multiple occasions and Kanter didn’t even try to show high against the greatest shooter the game has ever seen.

If Kanter can’t play outside, the team might be better served sitting the big man for long stretches and going with long, versatile defenders.

In addition to his defensive woes, the Blazers starting center posted just six points on 3-of-8 shooting in 32 minutes of play. He hit the boards hard, leading Portland with 16 rebounds, but he has to be more versatile.  

[RELATED: Stotts gets defensive about Blazers' Game 1 defense on Curry]

Draw and kick?

If Portland is going to compete, the Rod Strickland jump passes from Lillard have to stop. The All-Star guard turned the ball over a game-high seven times on the evening and a high percentage of those gaffes were completely forced.

Lillard tried to beat his man off the dribble, collapse the lane and kick to open shooters. It didn’t work against the length of the Warriors' defenders. He often got too deep and the Warriors collapsed on him in the key.

To compound matters, the Blazers leading scorer hit just 4-of-12 from the field to finish with 19 points, six assists and four rebounds.

Lillard is a huge reason Portland is still alive in the postseason. Whether it was Game 1 jitters, fatigue or playing at home, he wasn’t at his best. If the Trail Blazers are going to pull off the upset, Lillard has to star.

Steph Curry shares his thoughts on Allen Iverson's 'top five' comment

Steph Curry shares his thoughts on Allen Iverson's 'top five' comment

At NBA All-Star weekend last year, Allen Iverson told Steph Curry that he's in his "top five all day long."

Since then, Iverson repeatedly has said that the Warriors' superstar would be his point guard if he was assembling an all-time starting five.

"You know what's funny -- I have that saved on my phone," Curry told Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes on the latest episode of "All the Smoke" on Showtime (the full show will air this Thursday). "It's crazy. It's crazy, right?

"I ain't never had a big head. That dude who I picked up a lot of game and inspiration from -- he's now looking at my game ...

"Some OGs, they don't want to relinquish the praise. Same way we respect the OGs, we want it both ways. So when you do hear that, that means something."

As Steph said after Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals: "Low-key, I've always wanted to be like Allen Iverson."

It must be killing the three-time NBA champion to be sidelined with the broken left hand, especially on nights like Monday in Portland when he sat on the Warriors' bench while Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard dropped 61 points in an overtime win over the Dubs.

[RELATED: What names did Charles Barkley just call Steph and Klay?]

Now is the perfect time to remind everybody that the two-time NBA MVP averaged 36.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists against the Blazers in the 2019 Western Conference Finals, all while shooting 47 percent overall and nearly 43 percent from deep.

It's safe to assume that Iverson doesn't forget about that, and neither should you.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

Why comparing Warriors' Eric Paschall to Draymond Green should stop

paschalldrayusa.jpg
USATSI

Why comparing Warriors' Eric Paschall to Draymond Green should stop

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The offseason comparisons between Warriors rookie Eric Paschall and star forward Draymond Green made sense. Both were highly successful four-year college basketball players from big-time programs that were taken in the second round of the NBA draft due to concerns of their overall athleticism and their inability to fit in to a traditional position.

Both players supposedly were too undersized to play the power forward position in the NBA, but also not quick or polished enough to be small forwards. Even their physiques had similar builds. So with all of that, comparing the two players before the season began was logical.

But it is not anymore.

The most important caveat is that Green is a three-time All-Star, a Defensive Player of the Year, three-time NBA champion and at one point, was widely considered a top-20 player in the league. Conversely, Paschall is a rookie who has not had a chance to accomplish an NBA resume yet.

Comparing both players seems silly already, and it is unfair to Paschall for creating expectations for that type of success. And yet if the side-by-side comparison is simply regarding how they play, Paschall and Green are completely different in their skillsets and approach to the game. 

On the defensive end, Draymond is one of the best help-side defenders in the modern NBA. He plays a "free safety" type role, using his unique ability to read the opponent's every move while also having the quickness and strength to counter them. Despite being just 6-foot-6, Green is elite at guarding big men in the NBA, while also having the unique ability to defend every position on the court.

Paschall, on the other hand, still is learning to play defense at the NBA level, and even with that, has shown to be more of a one-on-one defender so far. While he is more accustomed to guarding the power forward position, he has had impressive defensive moments defending "straight up" against wings, sliding his feet and using his strength to force them into tough shots.

It will take time for Paschall to develop from a good defender into the great one that many think he is capable of becoming. Regardless, his current projection does not have him playing the same defensive style as Green.

On offense, the contrast between the two is even greater. Green became one of the most unique offensive threats in the game as a great playmaker in transition and out of the pick-and-roll. His ability to push the ball full speed in the fast break and expose slow opposing big men helped pave the way for the Warriors' "Death Lineup" that revolutionized small-ball.

At his peak, Green was a 39 percent 3-point shooter, but scored most of his points on the break attacking the hoop. His elite passing ability helped him rack up assists, where he could spread the ball around to the greatest shooters of all-time surrounding him. 

[RELATED: Why Dubs are in power position with Burks at trade deadline]

While Paschall has shown glimpses of impressive playmaking talent, his real bread and butter so far in the NBA has been dominating opponents one-on-one. He is remarkably explosive jumping off two feet, and he is able to combine his great strength with unique finesse when finishing over defenders at the rim. His shooting is very inconsistent from deep, just like Draymond, but he still is refining a mid-range pull-up that keeps defenders honest.

For being only a few months into this NBA career, Paschall already has become a "throw the ball to him and clear out of the way" type talent on offense. While Paschall might never be the type of offensive quarterback like Green, he already is on his way to becoming a more dynamic scoring threat.

Draymond will continue to take Paschall under his wing and teach him the nuances of the game. But when all is said and done, the two Warriors will complement each other very nicely on the court with their own personal skills and differentiated abilities, rather than repetitive and possibly gratuitous similarities.