Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 116-94 Game 1 win over Blazers

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 116-94 Game 1 win over Blazers


OAKLAND – Riding terrific 3-point shooting and solid perimeter defense, the Warriors carved out a 116-94 victory over the Trail Blazers Tuesday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

With Stephen Curry pouring in nine triples to lead the way, the Warriors shot 51.5 percent (17-of-33) beyond the arc – better than their 49-percent shooting on 2-point attempts.

Meanwhile, they limited Portland to 25 percent (7-of-28) from deep and 36.1 percent overall.

Here are three takeaways from Game 1:

The Backcourts, Pt. I

The battle of the backcourts is the most compelling aspect of this series, and it was not close in Game 1. The Warriors were decisive winners – thanks mostly to the brilliance of Curry.

Curry scored a game-high 36 points on 12-of-23 shooting from the field, including 9-of-15 from beyond the arc. He played 36 minutes and was plus-10.

So magnificent was Curry that it didn’t matter that Klay Thompson, again eager to launch, didn’t find a rhythm until late. Shooting 6-of-19 through three quarters, he finished with 26 points on 10-of-24 shooting, including 3-of-9 from deep.

Damian Lillard, the Oakland native and Portland’s scoring leader, tallied 19 points, taking only 12 shots and making four. His skilled sidekick, CJ McCollum, coming off a 37-point outburst, put in 17 points on 7-of-19 shooting from the field,

Though the Warriors crowded Lillard at every opportunity, expect him to be more aggressive as this series moves forward.

It took a while for both teams to pick up the pace

For a game of such significance, there was not a lot of fizz to the proceedings in the early going. The Warriors looked only partially engaged. The Blazers looked, well, tired.

Perhaps that’s to be expected. Both teams were coming off an emotional series in the previous round, the Warriors against enemy Houston four days earlier and Portland was only two days removed from a Game 7 victory over the Nuggets in Denver.

The Blazers committed 13 turnovers in the first half and 21 for the game. The vast majority were of the live-ball variety, allowing the Warriors turned those giveaways into 31 points.

The energy level, much to the delight of the3 sellout crowd at Oracle Arena, picked up after halftime. Maybe it will be there from the opening tip when the teams meet Thursday at Oracle for Game 2.

A matter of fouls

The Warriors went to sleep Tuesday night to the sound of whistles. Might even wake up Wednesday morning to that same sound.

The officiating crew – Marc Davis, Tony Brothers and Tony Brown – stung the Warriors for 24 fouls. Every starter except Andre Iguodala had at least three, with Draymond Green tagged five times.

The Blazers were whistled for 16 fouls.

The result was a disparity in free throws, with Portland going 27-of-31 from the line and the Warriors finishing 14-of-17.

How Warriors are affected by EuroLeague canceling rest of 2019-20 season

How Warriors are affected by EuroLeague canceling rest of 2019-20 season

While the NBA is inching closer to resuming the 2019-20 season, Europe's top basketball league decided not to pursue the same avenue.

The EuroLeague announced Monday that it was canceling the remainder of its 2019-20 season.

Each EuroLeague team had played 28 of their 34 regular-season games.

Ordinarily, the EuroLeague ending its season wouldn't be news for the Warriors and their fans. But 2020 has been a completely different year for the Warriors. Mired in a 15-50 season, Golden State will have a top-five pick in this year's NBA draft.

That means 19-year-old Israeli prospect Deni Avdija, who plays for Maccabi Tel-Aviv, is on the Warriors' radar. NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole reported at the end of April that the Warriors have traveled to Europe to take a look at Avdija, who could be a top-five draft pick.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

With the Warriors missing the playoffs this season, the team was going to use the unexpected free time in May to go scout prospects in Europe. Coach Steve Kerr reportedly was supposed to go watch Killian Hayes and Théo Maledon, while Kent Lacob, director of team development, was going to scout Avdija. But the coronavirus pandemic forced the Warriors to cancel those travel plans.

Due to travel restrictions, the Warriors likely wouldn't have been able to send anyone to watch Avdija play in the final six EuroLeague games had they been held, but they could have at least gotten more film on him. Now, they will have to form their opinion of Avdija with the in-person scouting they've already done and the film they have on hand.

In 21 games this season against Israel Basketball Super League competition, Avdija averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 26.6 minutes.

[RELATED: 2020 NBA Mock Draft 7.0]

Avdija hasn't seen as much playing time in the EuroLeague, so his numbers aren't great. In 26 games against better competition, he's averaging 4.0 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 14.2 minutes.

We don't know when the NBA will hold the 2020 draft, but if the Warriors select Avdija, we'll know they saw enough of him before the coronavirus put a stop to basketball around the world.

Michael Jordan-Steph Curry 'The Match' pairing posed by Colin Cowherd

Michael Jordan-Steph Curry 'The Match' pairing posed by Colin Cowherd

Sunday’s “The Match,” featuring a showdown between NFL stars Peyton Manning and Tom Brady along with PGA icons Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods was a smashing success. The event raised $20 million for coronavirus relief in the United States, and was the highest-rated golf event in cable television history.

The access and humorous trash talk throughout has led many to speculate as to which duo from sports could be part of the next iteration of the event. Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd discussed this on Monday and posed some interesting potential pairings.

"Michael has always let it be known that he's pretty good at golf," Cowherd said. "Steph is easily the best current NBA golfer, that I would pay to see."

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Steph Curry tweeted Sunday that he’d like to be included next time around, and sure enough Cowherd first mentioned a duel between the Warriors star and another NBA icon with North Carolina roots in Michael Jordan. MJ was shown to play golf frequently throughout his NBA career during ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” and continues to be a fan of the sport.

Curry is an avid golf fan and was glued to his television Sunday during “The Match.” He’s played in some professional golf events in the past, and always is among the best current athletes at the celebrity-laden American Century Championship each summer in Lake Tahoe.

Given MJ’s propensity to trash talk during his historic NBA career, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be trading barbs constantly with Curry. Steph’s confidence never has been in question and he likely would have plenty of fun going back and forth with Jordan.

[RELATED: Who Warriors fans think Steph Curry should team up with in 'The Match']

Throwing a couple PGA pros in, especially two who are avid NBA fans could make for some great conversation. As we saw throughout Sunday’s foursome, Mickelson and Woods were more than willing to engage and dish out some one-liners.

MJ likely wouldn’t be thrilled about being mic’d up for an entire round with no editorial control. But if both parties would be willing, this would be the most highly-anticipated event in the history of golf.

Plus we finally could settle that pesky debate of which team was more dominant between Curry’s 2016-17 Warriors and Jordan’s 1995-96 Bulls.