OAKLAND – Entering Thursday’s Game 2, the Trail Blazers had talked about how they were going to make defensive changes and they also knew they had to knock down open shots.
On Thursday they did just that.
The Trail Blazers cleaned up the mistakes they had made in Game 1 and came out aggressive on the defensive end to make the Warriors more uncomfortable while not getting as many uncontested shots.
In the first half, the Blazers took control of the game, taking a 15-point lead into halftime. Yet, as everyone around the NBA knows the Warriors can score in bunches and quickly. Golden State started the second quarter on a 14-6 run to make it a game again.
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts went deep into his bench and it worked out in the final quarter, just not enough. It came down to the wire, but the Warriors held onto beat the Blazers, 114-111.
The series now shifts to Portland.
Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers told NBC Sports Bay Area that Kevin Durant (right calf) will not travel with the team to Portland for Games 3 and 4. Durant was re-evaluated on Tuesday night prior to Game 2. He suffered the calf strain in Game 5 of the Warriors and Rockets series.
Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers Game 2 loss:
1. Blazers change up defensive pick and roll coverage
There were question marks heading into Game 2 regarding what the Blazers were thinking letting their bigs drop back so much and leave Stephen Curry so wide open on the pick and roll. Portland made adjustments in Game 2. The bigs were higher up on the screens not giving so much space and the Blazers were switching off ball screens more often than not. Plus, Portland’s defensive rotation was much quicker on Thursday night.
Portland was playing more aggressive on both ends and the scoreboard reflected it.
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts also put Rodney Hood on either Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson for a majority of the game to put more length on Golden State’s guards.
2. Portland role players step up
Just like in the First Round series against the Thunder, when Damian Lillard drove to the hoop and got caught in traffic, he would kick it out to a wide open Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless. And like in that First Round series, Aminu and Harkless hit from outside. The three-point shooting by the Blazers was far better than what they had done just two days prior. Portland set a playoff franchise record with 11 three-pointers in a half.
It says a lot that the Blazers held a 15-point halftime lead after Lillard scored just 10 points in the first half. The Trail Blazers All-Star point guard really didn’t getting going offensively until late in the second quarter.
Seth Curry was also a key piece off the bench for Portland on both ends of the court. When he was on the floor the Blazers were a plus-13.
3. Warriors tighten up in fourth quarter
The game was all tied up at 89 apiece heading into the final period. Coach Stotts went with a rotation change and played Meyers Leonard in the fourth. Leonard and Lillard had a good two-man game going in the final 12 minutes. Golden State also missed lay-ups and open shots. With Portland starting the quarter outscoring the Warriors 13-5, Golden State and Porltand was trading baskets until the end.
It was almost like the Warriors didn’t know what to do when Leonard was knocking down threes and Seth Curry kept coming up with clutch steals, however, in the end Golden State came up with timely stops and buckets.
NEXT UP: The Trail Blazers and Warriors will tip-off Game 3 on Saturday night at 6:00pm. You can catch the game on NBC Sports Northwest. Our pregame coverage starts at 5:30pm.
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