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.

Why Warriors should be happy Raptors beat Bucks in Game 3 of East finals

Why Warriors should be happy Raptors beat Bucks in Game 3 of East finals

Publicly, the Warriors have no rooting interest in the Eastern Conference. Why would they?

They're one win away from reaching their fifth straight NBA Finals and in the midst of one of the greatest sports dynasties of all time. 

What they should want, however, is a long series between the Bucks and the Raptors. That's exactly why Golden State should be happy Toronto beat Milwaukee 118-112 in double overtime in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series on Sunday. 

After the Bucks dominated the Raptors in the first two games of the series by a combined 30 points in Milwaukee, Toronto held them off north of the border. This series is guaranteed to go at least five games now. Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo played 45 minutes before fouling out and the Raptors were led by Kawhi Leonard's 36 points over 52 minutes. 

A longer series and more minutes played by the two superstars is a win-win for the Warriors. 

Despite winning five straight games and being ahead three-games-to-none over the Blazers in the Western Conference finals, the Warriors are without two of their top players. Forward Kevin Durant is rehabbing a strained right calf and center DeMarcus Cousins is on his way back from a torn left quad. 

Durant didn't travel with the team to Portland and will be out for Game 4 on Monday night. Cousins, however, is said to be closer than KD in making a return to the Dubs

[RELATED: Steph believes Warriors won't be slowed by Iggy's injury]

Even without the two stars, the Warriors have been on a roll. But players, and even one mother, know how important Durant and Cousins are in the team's attempt to three-peat.

The NBA Finals don't begin until May 30. The Warriors can have over a week to rest and get healthy if they sweep the Blazers. At the same time, their opponent could be significantly less rested, especially if the Raptors keep winning.

Draymond Green's mom agrees Warriors need Kevin Durant for NBA Finals

Draymond Green's mom agrees Warriors need Kevin Durant for NBA Finals

The Warriors are rolling right now. Whether it's the Splash Brothers heating up from deep, or Draymond Green doing it, the Blazers have had no answers for them in the Western Conference finals. 

And they're doing it all without Kevin Durant, the back-to-back NBA Finals MVP. 

Without Durant, the Warriors are looking like the squad that won a ring and set a NBA record with 73 regular-season wins without him. None of that matters, though. When you can have one of the greatest to ever play the game on your team, you welcome him with wide open arms. 

Draymond Green's mother, Mary Babers-Green, agrees. 

Like mother, like son. 

With Durant rehabbing a strained right calf in the Warriors' last four games, all wins, Draymond has averaged 14 points, 10.8 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game. Don't tell him the Warriors are better without KD, though. 

“That’s idiotic,” Green said to The Athletic's Tim Kawakami Thursday after the Warriors' 114-111 win in Game 2 over the Blazers. “It’s very idiotic. I don’t think there’s one person in this locker room, one person in this organization that thinks that. And I know for damn sure that any idiot that does possibly (say) it don’t believe it.”

[RELATED: How incident with KD helped Draymond change his demeanor]

Durant will miss Game 4 on Monday. A Warriors win would give them a sweep and well over a week of rest before the NBA Finals begin on May 30.