OAKLAND -- The Trail Blazers are out to prove they belong in the Western Conference Finals and can play with the Golden State Warriors. Entering Tuesday’s Game 1, Golden State held a 8-1 all-time playoff record against the Trail Blazers, but in this 2019 West Finals these are two very different teams from a few years ago.
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts even mentioned before Game 1 that his team does have continuity, but it’s still a very different team from the last time the Blazers and Warriors met in the First Round of 2017.
Both teams looked as though they needed to shake out some Conference Finals jitters. The Blazers and Warriors missed easy lay-ups and turned the ball over more than usual in the first half.
Portland had some costly mistakes early on. With poor shooting and 13 turnovers in the first half, the Blazers were fortunate to be down just nine points at the break.
To start the third quarter it was all Golden State. The Warriors led by as many as 17 points, but the Blazers made it more of a game late in the third. It looked as if Portland was on its way to another comeback win. Yet in the fourth, the Warriors stepped on the gas. Golden State put on a show in the final period and cruised to 116-94 win.
Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers Game 1 loss:
1. Warriors team ball makes a difference
Whether it was Golden State being able to get the outlet pass out real quick that led to a fast-break basket or it was zipping the ball around the arc to find the wide-open player in the corner, the Warriors were doing it all on offense. They were sharing the ball.
Golden State has been an elite passing team for years now. This is nothing new. Portland getting into passing lanes and making sure not to get beat back is going to be a must for Portland to have success against the Warriors.
2. All eyes on the three-ball
This series could well be decided on how well the shooters do from three-point range. Both the Blazers and Warriors are great three-point shooting teams.
On Tuesday night, the Warriors needed to get up a few warm-up shots during the game before they got going from three. Golden State started the game 0-for-4 from deep, but that quickly changed. Shooters are always going to shoot and really that it is probably the most Golden State Warriors motto ever.
Steph Curry heated up the end of the first half from long distance and once that happens it’s extremely difficult for any team to beat the Warriors. Curry finished 9-of-15 from three.
In the fourth quarter it was as if the Warriors as a team could not miss from downtown.
3. Warriors swarm Dame
Golden State in Game 1 took a very similar approach to how the Pelicans defended Damian Lillard last postseason.
There were times the Warriors would send to players at Lillard right after he crossed half court. The Trail Blazers All-Star point guard struggled to get open looks. Lillard was able to find his teammates on occasion with so much attention on him, but the Blazers struggled from the field all night long and really couldn’t hit from three.
NEXT UP: The Trail Blazers and Warriors will tip-off Game 2 on Thursday night at 6:00pm. You can catch the game on NBC Sports Northwest. Our pregame coverage starts at 5:30pm.
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