Draymond Green

What's a 'Spurs year?' Well, Golden State may be having one right now

What's a 'Spurs year?' Well, Golden State may be having one right now

SAN FRANCISCO -- Trail Blazer fans are moaning about injuries and the fact that the team has big men Paul Gasol, Zach Collins, Jusuf Nurkic and (last Saturday) Hassan Whiteside out at the same time.

But folks, that's nothing compared to what the Golden State Warriors are going through right now.

Golden State reached the NBA Finals last season and out of the 15 players on its roster, guess how many are going to play against the Trail Blazers tonight?

Zero. Zip. Nada. None. Nobody.

Sure, nobody's feeling sorry for a franchise that was a fixture at the Finals for five years. But, for the record, tonight the Warriors will be without D'Angelo Russell (right ankle sprain), Steph Curry (left hand fracture), Jacob Evans (left abductor strain), Draymond Green (left index finger sprain), Kevon Looney (neuropathy), Alen Smailagic (right ankle sprain) and Klay Thompson (left ACL rehab).

And just one more thing about that. This is beginning to look like what the league calls a "Spurs year" for Golden State. In other words, a very good team crippled by injuries, drops down into the lottery, plucks a great player and then bounces right back into contention the following season -- the way San Antonio did when it picked Tim Duncan.

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers at Warriors tonight at 7:30pm

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers at Warriors tonight at 7:30pm

The Trail Blazers (3-3) are back on the road. Portland visits the injury-riddled Golden State Warriors (1-5) on Monday night with tip-off slated for 7:30pm PT. The Blazers have been dealing with their own injuries.

Shortly before Saturday’s game started the team announced big man Zach Collins is set to have surgery on his dislocated left shoulder, and while there isn’t a firm timeline on how long he will be, it’s likely his recovered will be measured in months not weeks.

Now the Blazers are trying to figure out how to come together as a team without Collins.

The good news for Monday’s contest, the Blazers have listed Rodney Hood (left quad contusion) and Hassan Whiteside (left knee bone bruise) as probable.

As for Golden State, the Warriors have listed D’Angelo Russell (right ankle) as questionable, while Steph Curry (left hand fracture), Jacob Evans (left adductor), Draymond Green (left index finger), Kevon Looney (neuropathy), Alen Smailagic (right ankle) & Klay Thompson (left ACL rehab) are out for Monday’s game.

You can watch the Blazers-Warriors game on NBC Sports Northwest, the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers and you can stream the game on our website or by downloading the MyTeams app!

And, have you heard about Blazers Pass? Tonight's Warriors game is the first game of the "Blazers Pass Season!"

You can get 15 live Trail Blazers games, pre and postgame shows, and on-demand full-game replays with Blazers Pass! (Only available to fans located in Blazers Territory, pursuant to NBA rules and agreements. No TV provider required. Subscription Period: November 4, 2019 - April 16, 2020. Subscription auto-renews prior to start of next season.)

Don't miss any of the coverage of tonight's game:

3:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

6:30pm Blazers Warm-Up

7:00pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

7:30pm Trail Blazers vs. Warriors

After the game catch Blazers Outsiders with hosts Joe Simons and Dan Marang!

Plus, full coverage of the game from Dwight JaynesJamie Hudson and our digital team. Follow us on social throughout the night for the latest updates. 

Quote of the Day

“We just feel really confident that no matter who’s set in front of us, even without a lot of our bigs right now, we feel like we can go compete and win games.” – Antony Tolliver on how the Blazers are dealing with so many injured teammates

'Wrecking ball' Draymond Green is demolishing the Trail Blazers

'Wrecking ball' Draymond Green is demolishing the Trail Blazers

With Rip City nearly reduced to rubble, the leader of the demolition lingered at midcourt to celebrate with his co-workers.

Draymond Green hugged Stephen Curry and then hi-fived Alfonzo McKinnie, Kevon Looney and Klay Thompson. Behind a virtuoso performance from their fiery do-it-all forward, the Golden State Warriors grabbed a commanding 3-0 in the Western Conference Finals, moving them one win away from a fifth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.

“I don’t even know what to say about Draymond,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He was like a wrecking ball, destroying everything in his path. The pace that he was generating was incredible. It just seemed like he never got tired.”

Game 3 in the Moda Center played out much the same way as Game 2 at Oracle Arena had two days earlier. The Blazers put together a brilliant first 24 minutes then the wrecking ball came crashing through in third quarter. The Warriors have a way of making double-digit leads crumble in an instant, the Blazers’ 18 point lead in Game 3 last longer than their 17 point lead in Game 2, but the final result was still the same.

In the decisive third quarter Saturday night, Green took two shots, drawing a shooting foul on one and finishing a transition layup on the other. But he changed the game with his force, creating 13 points off six assist and grabbing six rebounds while pushing the pace at every opportunity. He overwhelmed the Blazers and shifted the series likely for good.

Defensively, Green was seemingly everywhere. He would trap Damian Lillard above the three-point arc and then recover to disrupt the back end of the play to make life miserable for the Blazers if they could maneuver into the paint.

Even before the game-changing third quarter, Green kept the Warriors in striking range in the first half. Getting easy transition buckets by relentlessly pushing the ball after the Blazers would score. He kept the window open for a Golden State run, and then decided to just kick the front door down instead.

“He was the difference-maker,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “What he did, he kept them going, even though we had a lead in the first half, his energy, the way he was pushing the ball, kept them going, and you know, he has such an impact on the game on both ends.”

Curry and Thompson get the headlines for the Warriors and rightfully so. Curry’s long-range shooting threat has helped the Warriors leverage easy baskets all series long. But it’s Green’s decision making that has helped Golden State take advantage of a team so concentrated on a Splash Brothers onslaught. Trap Curry, and Green will happily make the right play out as he rolls to the rim. Fail to get over a screen, and Green will deliver a pass with impeccable timing to capitalize on the mistake.  

“It’s an interesting challenge,” Blazers forward Moe Harkless said. “Because he so good playing with his teammates. He’s like the perfect fit for the guys around him.”

The Blazers have made their adjustments, and mostly they have been effective. They’ve ratcheted up the perimeter pressure on Curry and Thompson to take away the opens three-pointers Portland conceded in Game 1. Stotts inserted Meyers Leonard into the starting group in Game 3, a move that helped the Blazers get more space on offense and loosen up the Warriors defense with an additional long-range shooter and strong screen setter.

Those adjustments weren’t enough. In large part because Green is hard to scheme against. Daring a non-shooter to take unguarded jumpers can work, unless of course that non-shooter is driving the ball at full speed towards the rim, compromising a defense and finding his all-world teammates with uncanny timing. Avoiding an All-NBA defender on offense works, until he steps into passing lanes from the weakside or meets a drive in the paint with swarming ferocity.

The adjustments limited the easy splashes. They haven’t stop the wrecking ball. Green’s relentlessness has seemingly worn down the Blazers. Portland’s stars looked tired, Golden State looks to be rounding into title chasing rhythm.

“We just want to try to wear guys down over the course of 48 minutes,” Green said when asked if Golden State pressure had exhausted Lillard and Blazers teammates. “It's not necessarily that he's going to start the game gassed but if you can just wear him down over the course of 48 minutes, that makes those shots as the game goes on a little bit tougher.”

In the past, Green could be rattled. His biggest nemeses were the people with whistles, not those in opposing jerseys. Admittedly, Green said he “got to a point where I was doing more crying than playing.” His feud with the officials on hold, he can get back to making life miserable for his opponents. His multi-faceted brilliance has all but ended the Blazers seasons.

The Blazers have played back to back excellent first halves, they made subtle defensive adjustments and found a better solution in their starting lineup. Sometime this summer the Blazers may be able to appreciate what they accomplished during this run to West Finals. But that time isn’t now, because they’re seemingly out of moves and out answers. Their inevitable demolition is coming. They can’t avoid the wrecking ball.

Stay ahead of your team in the Western Conference Finals. Get LIVE Trail Blazers coverage, in-depth articles, podcast, videos and more. Download the app, log-in and the Blazers are at your fingertips. Download Now

Meyers Leonard felt "bittersweet" after Game 3

Meyers Leonard felt "bittersweet" after Game 3

PORTLAND – Another poor shooting third quarter doomed the Trail Blazers on Saturday night.

“It was essentially one really good half of basketball, and then we’re talking about the World Champs,” Meyers Leonard said postgame.

Those World Champs have been here before. It’s nothing new for the Golden State Warriors to be down in a Western Conference Finals game and then be able to tighten up defensively while piling on the points.

Golden State now takes a commanding 3-0 series lead after Game 3’s 110-99 victory.

Similar to Game 2 of the series, the Blazers let this one slip away after a great first half.

The biggest adjustment for both teams was the insertion of a new center in their starting lineups.

Golden State started center Damian Jones in place of Andrew Bogut, while the Blazers went with Meyers Leonard.  Neither player had seen many minutes in the first two games.

The Blazers had the advantage with the lineup change, particularly in the first half. With Leonard in the lineup, it looked as though Portland’s plan was to outshoot the Warriors instead of trying to slow them down.  

[RELATED]: Are all those games, all those minutes, catching up with the Trail Blazers?

Leonard finished with a new playoff career-high 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 3-for-7 from three, and he was the first Trail Blazers player to score in double figures on Saturday.

Leonard’s positive impact didn’t go unnoticed by Blazers head coach Terry Stotts.

“He had a terrific first half like the rest of the team,” Stotts said. “I liked his spacing and the way he played in Game 2 in Golden State. He can space the floor, and he and Dame [Lillard], and he and CJ [McCollum], have a good two-man game.”

Leonard’s previous playoff career-high was set back in April of 2015 during the Blazers First Round series against the Memphis Grizzlies, when he scored 13 points.

Leonard was pleased with his individual performance.

“It’s a little bittersweet because we lost,” Leonard said.

The Blazers were outscored 29-13 in the third quarter. Leonard had just one three-pointer in the quarter.

“This one stings for me personally, because I was given a bigger opportunity and I feel that for a good majority of the night I was helping us win that game and making an impact, but we didn’t come out with a win, so back to the drawing board and come back Monday night ready to go,” Leonard said.

The Trail Blazers center made sure to make a point that even though he was happy with his game, he was disappointed in the overall result.

“This isn’t about me, it’s about the team. Winning at the end of the day is all that matters. So, I’ve got to find a way to be a little bit better and come out Monday night and try to the get the job done,” Leonard said.

Leonard had 13 of his 16 points by halftime. There were a few times he hesitated from deep, and he acknowledged he knows he is in the game to space the floor, saying that is one of his jobs.

“I think I’ve put a lot of work in and all I want to do is help this team win and when I came off the floor, I think it was sometime in the second quarter, you know, the fans were pretty loud, it was a pretty special feeling, “Leonard added.

Now, the 27-year-old is eager to look at the film.

“I feel personally that I have taken more contested shots and that I’m doing a better job of that, however, I’m sure when I look at the film either late tonight or tomorrow, I’ll probably see four or five attempts that maybe I could’ve gotten up,” Leonard said.

The 7-footer was an in-demand interview after the game.  A rotating cast of media members came by to talk to the Blazers' big man, and there was one phrase he kept repeating several times: 

“If felt good to be out there tonight," Leonard said.

The positive impact was felt, but it wasn’t enough to get by the back-to-back champs.

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Are all those games, all those minutes, catching up with the Trail Blazers?

Are all those games, all those minutes, catching up with the Trail Blazers?

There is just one question left after the Golden State Warriors disposed of the Portland Trail Blazers 110-99 in Moda Center Saturday night:

Are the Trail Blazers, trailing 3-0, going to waste the jet fuel for their charter aircraft to go to Oakland for a Game 5 of this seven-game series?

Not sure. But it’s going to take a better effort to extend this series than Portland gave in the second half of Game 3.

Halftime? That was the perfect name for what happened over the last two quarters. Portland scored 66 points in the first half and just 33 in the second. Half!

And it was a crazy night for the Trail Blazers, who got solid play off the bench and from surprise starter at center, Meyers Leonard.

The problem was the starting guards – and that doesn’t happen often to the Blazers. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined to go 7-23 from the floor and 3-13 from three in the second half, as their team shot 30.8 percent from the field and 25 percent from three after halftime.

For the game, the duo was 12-38 and 5-19 … AND just 13-20 from the foul line, the driving force behind their team’s 20-33 mess at the free-throw line. And they also combined for six turnovers, five by Lillard.

And after watching them play for the entire season, I must say I’ve never seen them as worn down as they looked Saturday.

“Everybody’s tired,” Lillard said. “It’s the third round of the playoffs after a long season. Last series I got a lot of attention and the same thing in this series. It takes a lot to deal with that and then go out there and chase guys around on the defensive end.

“But everybody’s putting that effort out. And I feel fine enough to go out there and play 40 minutes like I have been. But it’s definitely tiring.”

McCollum spoke about the blitzing the Warriors have done on Portland’s pick-and-rolls and their double-teaming.

“They’ve been up at the level of the screen and in iso situations they do a good job of loading up,” McCollum said. “So you never are really by yourself. The elbows, boxes. Sometimes they just send a second defender. They are very smart about how they structure their defense.

“But you know, we have to do a better job. That’s what elite defenses do. They make it difficult on you and try to get the other guys to beat you.”

And of course, the Blazers’ “other guys” are often not up to the task.

Leonard, who had been buried on the bench a good part of the season (and his career, for that matter), gave his team 31 solid minutes, hitting 6 of 12 and 3-7 from long range.

“He had a terrific first half, like the rest of the team,” Coach Terry Stotts said of Leonard. “I liked his spacing and the way he played in Game 2 in Golden State.

“You know, he can space the floor, and he and Dame and he and CJ have a good two-man game. Obviously, it’s designed to help our offense a little bit. It really looked good in the first half. Not so much the second half. But that wasn’t his fault.”

Of course, Jusuf Nurkic isn’t available, but I’ll never understand how a player can be deemed important enough to play the entire final quarter of Game 2 and then start Game 3 of the conference finals after not playing AT ALL in 21 games during the regular season and starting only twice. And, in fact, he did not play a single minute in Game 1 of this series, either.

A little more playing time along the way might have made him even more effective. But that’s the Meyers Leonard Story and it’s been a mystery long enough to convince a lot of people that Leonard can’t play. Until the conference finals, I guess.

Stotts was asked about his team’s second half.

“Our offense,” he said. “Our offense fell apart. We missed some shots. Took some tough shots. Didn’t move the ball as well. They were scoring so we were taking the ball out of the net and didn’t get anything in transition.

“I said at the beginning of the series, to beat Golden State you’ve got to be able to score. Scoring 33 in the second half is not going to do it.”

Draymond Green had a sensational game for the Warriors at both ends of the court and he made a telling remark at the end of his post-game media session.

The Warriors really bought into resting players this season and it may be the reason they looked so much like the fresher team Saturday night.

“You know,” Green said, “Steve (Kerr) and our entire organization has been on board, making sure our guys get as much rest as you possibly can through a rigorous season. It’s a rigorous schedule and especially right now with Kevin (Durant) out, those rest days during the year, they make a difference for us.

“So that’s been good and sometimes it may cost you a game or two during the regular season but it’s more important to be healthy at this time of the year. I understand that. We’re trying to play into late, mid-June every year. It’s good to be healthy so I think its making a difference for us.”

Portland’s final chance to extend the series comes Monday night at Moda. But by now, it’s firmly established which team is the best in the West.

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Did the Warriors "steal" that game or did the Blazers just hand it to them?

Did the Warriors "steal" that game or did the Blazers just hand it to them?

OAKLAND – The first words out of Steve Kerr’s mouth in the post-game press conference Thursday night were, “We stole that game.”

You could certainly make the case that Portland should have defeated Kerr’s Golden State Warriors, but it’s not really a steal when someone leaves the keys in the car with the motor running, then opens the door and invites you behind the wheel.

Before losing 114-111 to the Warriors, the Trail Blazers held a 17-point lead in the first half. They led by 15 at halftime before a horrendous third quarter left them tied.

But they still built an eight-point lead when Meyers Leonard hit a three-point field goal with 4:28 left in the game. But Portland would hit just one more basket the remainder of the game, a Seth Curry three with 1:03 to go that lifted the Blazers into a one-point lead.

This was a game that was right there for the Trail Blazers to win and they didn’t. And it was just as much their fault as anything the Warriors did.

Portland got big contributions from its bench. Curry scored 16 points and went 3-3 from the field in the final quarter. Rodney Hood scored 12 and Leonard, who didn’t even play in Game One, played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter and finished with seven points, six rebounds and two assists.

The Trail Blazers made 18 three-point field goals and Golden State hit just nine and that stat alone would decide about 90 percent of NBA games. In other words, the Blazers had 27 more points from long range than Golden State.

But the third quarter, when the Warriors forced five turnovers and turned them into a whopping 13 points, vaulted Golden State back in the game.

Then, in the deciding fourth quarter, Portland managed to make just 8 of its 23 shots, including only 5 of 14 from long range. And the Warriors outrebounded the Blazers 16-9 in the final quarter.

Damian Lillard went 2-6 in the fourth quarter and CJ McCollum was 0-6. They combined to go 1-9 from three over those 12 minutes, too.

And the Warriors gave Portland fits with the Steph Curry-Draymond Green pick-and-roll and allowed some layups.

And that went a long way toward the Warriors’ “steal” of Game 2 of the series.

Lillard had an opportunity for a game-tying three-point shot at the end but couldn’t get it off against Andre Iguodala, on what looked to be a steal but was officially called a blocked shot in the play-by-play.

“Honestly, we were out of timeouts,” Terry Stotts said. “Just it wasn’t – we just got to get a shot up. You know, get him the ball. It’s a tough situation to be in. We couldn’t necessarily run a play but I thought he did the best job he could as far as trying to get a three up.”

Lillard maintained he was fouled on the play.

“You know, I got the ball,” Lillard said. “I think they knew we needed a three. I think it was under 10 seconds by the time I got a catch, and a quick two – we didn’t have any timeouts left. I don’t think that would have done much for us.

“We knew we were going to go for the three, so I was just trying to get space to get a three up. I know it’s a tough position for the referees to be in to make a call at that point of the game. I tried to get a little bit of space the first time and he grabbed my arm and I lost the ball a little bit. I regained it and I was going to shoot it again.

“But he got his hand on the ball.

“For me, as the offensive player, I felt like it was contact. There was a lot of contact. But obviously, the ref is not going to decide the game or jump in at that point. You know, so they – good defensive play.”

Iguodala explained his side of the play:

“Well, you look at the time and situation, up three, so the one thing that you don’t want to do is give up a three. You actually can take risks outside the three-point line and be extra aggressive. The key is not to give that up. If the guy drives by you, then you still have the lead. When you look at it that way, it wasn’t that good of a play.

“I just take odds on what you want to do and if the odds are in your favor, then for something like that to happen outside the three-point line.”

McCollum has a philosophical way of looking at games like this one – a pretty unbiased summary in most cases.

“I think it’s just a make-or-miss league,” he said. “We got some good looks. I personally had some good looks. I had an open three I missed, and I had a floater I missed late.

“They played good defense, but I can live with the shots I missed every day of the week and I think, you know, offensively we had some pretty good possessions.

“We just didn’t finish them.”

And didn’t finish the game well, either.

They have two more chances, next up at Moda Center – Saturday and Monday.

Stay ahead of your team in the Western Conference Finals. Get LIVE Trail Blazers coverage, in-depth articles, podcast, videos and more. Download the app, log-in and the Blazers are at your fingertips. Download Now

GOAT? Who knows... but there's never been another team like the Warriors

GOAT? Who knows... but there's never been another team like the Warriors

You can talk all day and all night about the greatest teams of all time. And you really can't come to any conclusions. Differing eras makes it too difficult.

But there has never been another team like this version of the Golden State Warriors.

Folks, time changes. And it has changed basketball in a very big way. You know that, of course, but it may be a bigger change than you think.

Yes, the Warriors shoot the three-point shot like nobody else -- in volume and accuracy. In Game 3, they made 16 of their 33 threes while Cleveland was hitting just 12 of 44. That's a huge edge.

And I must say, Steph Curry is just as unique as his team. I know Kevin Durant is getting most of the headlines from Wednesday's game -- as he should -- but we're already taking Curry for granted because he's been doing his amazing thing for a few years now.

It wasn't just that Curry made five of his nine three-point shots. It's that he made shots -- and continues to make shots -- from spots where other players don't dare shoot them. And he gets them off quickly, too. Curry's edge over most every other player in the NBA is that he's accumulating points three at a time on shots that nobody else makes with consistency. If he gets a glimmer of daylight from about 25 feet and in, he can be deadly. I don't remember any other player in the history of the game as proficient as he is at shooting in volume from distance.

And above that, he's a perpetual motion machine. He had 13 rebounds Wednesday because he's so active. He gets to the ball, whether in the air or on the floor. In his own way, he's as difficult to defend as any of the game's legendary players.

And yes, the Warriors also have other shooters. Klay Thompson and Durant are terrific. But what makes these guys special is that they move the ball and move bodies. They play an unselfish, equal-opportunity offense that doesn't allow the defense to lock in on anybody. In contrast to the Cavaliers.

Cleveland plays too much one-on-one. It's really not sustainable -- even as good as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are at it -- over the long haul against a team moving the ball the way the Warriors do.

Wednesday, 72.5 percent of Golden State's made field goals were assisted. For Cleveland, it was just 42.5. EVERY SINGLE SHOT by Thompson, Draymond Green, David West and Shaun Livingston came off an assist. That's crazy.

And of course, when a lot of people are evaluating this series at some point, they're going to point fingers at the Cavaliers' "supporting cast" and conclude Cleveland didn't get enough production out of it. I think it's easy to say that, but my observation over many years of watching this game is that when one or two players are as ball dominant as James and Irving are, other players simply don't get a good feel for the game. What you end up with is players who are so eager to actually get a shot they burp up a bad one (J.R. Smith) or become more reluctant to shoot (Kevin Love). It's a natural response when you aren't getting consistent touches.

Basketball is changing at warp speed and the Warriors are leading the way. Shooting from distance is of paramount importance these days. You simply cannot afford to get outscored by a big number from behind the three-point line. It's so difficult to overcome that. And you've got to move the ball and play unselfishly to get open three-point shots.

And to beat the Warriors, you're going to need a great team. And there is only one great team out there right now and it's the Warriors. And they are so much different than any of the other great teams in history that it's hard to say where they fit.

A few other thoughts about Game 3:

  • I'm still not understanding why James didn't get out past the three-point line on Durant on that critical shot late in the game. That shot was too important to allow it to be wide open.
  • I'm also bewildered as to why the NBA allows these games to degenerate into a wrestling match. So many obvious fouls are being ignored that if you actually get called for a foul -- or a travel or a double dribble -- you're just flat-out unlucky. It's a joke.
  • People are saying that Green isn't playing his best during this series but he does so many things for his team. Wednesday night he led all players in contested shots with 15, had the best plus/minus of anybody with 14 and had a team-high seven assists to go with a team-high five screen-assists. That doesn't sound like a bad game to me.
  • The only team capable of beating the Warriors is the Warriors. If they don't move, or move the ball, or take a night off on defense, they can be had. But that's the only way.

 

 

Golden State puts finishing touches on sweep of Trail Blazers with dominating first quarter

Golden State puts finishing touches on sweep of Trail Blazers with dominating first quarter

The Trail Blazers’ season is over, their final attempt at redemption buried amid an avalanche of greatness from Golden State on Monday.

In a devastating start to Game 4, Golden State bolted to leads of 14-0 and 41-13 before eventually sealing a sweep in the best-of-seven series with a 128-103 win at the Moda Center.

Golden State tied an NBA-playoff record with 45 first quarter points and handed the Blazers their first playoff sweep since the Lakers in 2002 won a best-of-five series in three games.

Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 34 points and Al-Farouq Aminu had 25 points, but CJ McCollum missed his first nine shots and finished with six points and one assist on 2-of-12 shooting and the Blazers were held to 38.8 percent shooting.

Golden State, which welcomed the return of Kevin Durant after the star missed Games 2 and 3 with a calf injury, was led by Stephen Curry (37 points), Klay Thompson (18 points) and Draymond Green (21 points, six rebounds, four assists). Durant had 10 points in 20 minutes.

Golden State entered the playoffs with the NBA’s best record, and never did they play more like it than in Game 4, and in particular the first quarter.

In a whirlwind of three-pointers, blocks and dunks, the Warriors instantly sucked the air out of the sold out Moda Center. Portland didn’t score until 3:38 into the game with an Evan Turner three-pointer, but the Blazers never could put together a run against the NBA’s second best defense.

The Blazers started the third different starting lineup of the series in Game 4, inserting Meyers Leonard at center, but the move turned out to be moot after the Warriors’ hot start. Leonard played the opening five minutes, during which he grabbed one rebound, and did not play again until the final five minutes, as coach Terry Stotts started Aminu in the second half.

Any hopes for a Blazers’ comeback from a 72-48 halftime deficit were quickly dashed when the Warriors scored the first six points of the second half as the lead eventually swelled to as many as 33.

Shabazz Napier finished with 14 points and Noah Vonleh 14 rebounds for the Blazers. 

Podcast:

The Warriors are just too good -- for the Blazers and probably every other team

The Warriors are just too good -- for the Blazers and probably every other team

OAKLAND – In times like these for Trail Blazer fans it’s important to remember a few things. Such as:

  • Portland isn’t in the Eastern Conference. That means the No. 8-seeded team in the conference doesn’t get to play arguably the worst top-seeded team in playoff history. Instead, it must play one of the best teams in NBA history.
  • Jusuf Nerkic isn’t playing right now. Do you remember your Trail Blazers this season before he showed up? Yes, they looked a lot like what you saw in Game 2 of the playoff series Wednesday night – a 110-81 thrashing by the Golden State Warriors.
  • For as much as people talk about the Warriors’ potent offense, their defense is terrific, too. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 75 points in Game 1. Golden State wasn't going to let that happen again Wednesday. The starting guards totaled 23 Wednesday night, hitting just 9 of 34 shots.
  • The Blazers made only 30 of their 90 shots from the field, including only 7 of 34 from three-point range. And they turned the ball over 18 times. It really doesn’t get much better than that. Part of that is a continuation of the Trail Blazers' offensive stagnation but a lot of it was the Golden State defense.
  • The series moves back to Moda Center for a game Saturday night and another one Monday night. And as Damian Lillard pointed out, “It’s a series. The points don’t carry over.”
  • Or as Draymond Green said, “One thing we know is that it’s just one game… They’re still going to come out in Game 3 and give all they’ve got, whether we have K.D. or not.”
  • Yes, Kevin Durant did not play. No, it didn’t make much difference. These guys, in case you didn’t notice, are good. REAL good.

Will Nurkic play in Game 3? I have no idea. But trust me, the decision to play him won’t be based on how the series stands. It will be dependent on the condition of the break in his leg. If he can play without any further ramifications, I’d expect him to do so. But if there’s any problem there, he’ll sit – just as he has so far. And that's the way it should be. The big thing about Nurkic is his long-term future as a Trail Blazer franchise center. There's no point in risking that in a series his team can't win, anyway.

Folks, he will make a difference if he plays. I still think the Blazers, with him in the lineup, are capable of stealing a home game somehow. But make no mistake, he’s not going to turn this series around. The Warriors are too good right now.

Very probably too good for any team in the league.

Nurkic still out... and here's how he could have made a difference

Nurkic still out... and here's how he could have made a difference

OAKLAND -- Jusuf Nurkic Tuesday put an end to any mystery about his availability for Game 2 of Portland's first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors.

He's not playing Wednesday night. He didn't feel ready for it, he said before the team's practice. And, in fact, he was not going to practice Tuesday, either. The video of the interview accompanies this post but as you will hear, he's doing better. And he's also not ready to make any predictions about his appearance in future games.

But he did say he's had a full practice -- and a contact practice, at that.

So there you go. That's about all anyone knows about the situation.

How will it go Wednesday night without him?

Not well, I'd expect. After the first game of the series -- a 121-109 Warrior win Sunday afternoon -- it was obvious how the seven-foot center could help Portland attack Golden State at both ends of the court. His presence at the offensive end would probably force the Warriors into using centers Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee more minutes, something they don't want to do. Pachulia played just 12:28 in Game 1 and McGee played 9:41. Golden State prefers its small lineup, which usually features defensive wizard Draymond Green in the middle.

Now THAT would be an interesting matchup. Green has had success against true centers but Nurkic would be a handful for him. And at least he'd be enough of a threat that he'd keep Green from wandering around blocking shots from the rest of the Trail Blazers.

On defense, Nurkic would provide rim protection that Portland didn't have Sunday. Golden State's 44 points in the paint Sunday was not a huge number, but the Warriors made 22 of their 33 shots in that area and it would help if that percentage came down.

But we won't know, at least for at least one more game, what the Nurkic Effect would be. Or maybe we won't find out during this series at all. Nurkic provided no real clues about the future on Tuesday.