What went wrong in Game 1?
It was not the way the Trail Blazers had been playing and it was not the way they wanted to start their Western Conference Finals series with the Golden State Warriors. The Blazers didn’t shoot the ball well, they were plagued by turnovers, and struggled to defend the pick and roll as the Warriors defeated the Blazers 116-94 on Tuesday night.
After the Game 1 loss, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Enes Kanter, and Seth Curry, along with head coach Terry Stotts all offered up their thoughts on what went wrong on Tuesday night.
Golden State traps Lillard, McCollum
If the Blazers thought the Nuggets were putting all their focus on their backcourt, the Blazers hadn’t seen anything yet. Well, actually Portland has seen this type of swarming defense at the top of the key and clogging the paint to deter Lillard – They saw this type of defense against the Pelicans.
The Blazers All-Star point guard gave credit to how the Warriors defended him.
Lillard: “I think they gave a lot of attention to the ball when I was coming off screens. Even when I was in isolation situations, I was seeing two and three people...Sometimes I couldn't get an attempt up, even if I was trying to force it. They did a good job tonight defensively and even when I was trying to find guys, they were getting deflections just because it was a crowd. They were making me play in a crowd. I thought they were successful at that in this first game.”
Too many points off turnovers
Portland had some costly mistakes early on. With 13 turnovers in the first half, the Blazers were fortunate to be down just nine points at the break.
The Warriors finished the game with 31 points of the Blazers 21 turnovers.
Seth Curry: “Obviously, [the Warriors have been] one of the best defensive teams in the league for the past few years, so we got to take care of the ball and when you turn it over, it’s double trouble because they usually score on it. We got to be better offensively to keep up with them because we know they are tough to guard as well.”
Warriors get free from three on the pick and roll
Steph Curry got it going at the end of the first half from long distance and once that happens it’s extremely difficult for any team to beat the Warriors. Whether it was Curry or Klay Thompson, it sounds like the Blazers will need to make an adjustment on their pick and roll coverages.
Kanter: “They just made a lot of threes, they had wide open threes. I think next game we have to do a better job getting up and making them uncomfortable.”
Coach Stotts: “Well, to be honest, other than the fourth quarter, the game defensively was manageable. They got loose in the fourth quarter, and had, what, 39 in the fourth quarter. But going into the fourth quarter down six, we were finding ways to hang in on a night that we were struggling offensively.”
McCollum: “Pick-and-roll coverages were bad all night and they were rolling to the threes. Transition wise, I think the 21 turnovers definitely hurt us.≥.Other than that I think on-ball we just got to communicate a little bit better, tighten some things up and make it a little more difficult.”
Defending Steph -- “Not good”
Curry knocked down nine 3-pointers on his way to 36 points on the night. The nine threes is tied for third most in a single playoff game.
Lillard: “Yeah, that was very poor execution, you know, defensively on our part. Just having our bigs back that far; understanding the team we are playing against, they are not going to shoot mid-range jumpers and try to attack the rim. If they see the opportunity to shoot a three, they are going to tell you. They shoot it at a high clip. We've got to bring our guys up and run them off the line.”
McCollum on the defensive effort against Steph Curry: “Not good.”
McCollum on what they have to do differently to defend the pick and roll with Curry running the show: “Anything but what we did tonight.”
Tough night offensively overall
The Trail Blazers ended up shooting 36.1% from the field and made just 7-of-28 from three. Was it just a bad-shooting night for Portland or was it more about Golden State’s defense? The Blazers say both.
Coach Stotts: “Well, we'll look, I know it's cliché, but we'll watch the game film and see what they did. I know they gave Damian [Lillard] a lot of attention. They clogged the paint. We didn't finish the opportunities when we did have them.”
McCollum: “We had some good looks that we didn’t make, but they made it pretty difficult for us. So, we just got to get back to the drawing board, watch some film and figure out where we can attack.
Despite all that went wrong, Blazers still hung around
Steve Kerr said postgame he never thought his team had really put the Blazers away, saying, “you never feel that comfortable as an NBA coach in any game because everyone's got talent. Especially this team with McCollum and Lillard.”
The Blazers also felt that, that was the silver lining of Game 1: They didn’t play well and yet they were still hanging around.
McCollum: “I think we played a terrible game. We still had a chance going into the fourth quarter, so we’ll tighten some things up and look forward to the game on Thursday.”
Coach Stotts: “Whatever was happening, we were still hanging around. So we were encouraged by that, and then obviously they broke loose in the fourth quarter, but down six going into the fourth, there was some things to be encouraged about."