When Damian Lillard and Draymond Green were hit with double technical fouls early in Sunday night's game, that was all the proof needed to realize it'd be a chippy one.
After a blowout loss to the Trail Blazers on Friday, the Warriors were the ones to strike first.
But really, the big difference between Friday’s game and the one on Sunday: Stephen Curry.
Curry set a new career-high with 62 points as the Warriors evened up the regular-season series at one apiece in Sunday's 137-122 win. He was 8-for-16 from three. In their first meeting on Friday, Curry recorded 26 points.
“Well, certainly they played a lot better,” Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said immediately after the game. “Steph Curry played an outstanding game, that’s an understatement. The first half we didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well as we did the other (night). It kind of flipped as opposed to our first game with them, but we expected them to come out and play a little bit harder and a little bit better and they did.”
But, while Curry was balling out, the Blazers also battled through foul trouble... the whole night night.
Robert Covington, Derrick Jones Jr. and Damian Lillard each picked up three fouls in the first half. Jones Jr. picked up his fifth foul in just 17 minutes of work. After that, he didn’t return to the game.
So, the quick foul calls and the lopsided officiating played right into Curry's hands, and he made the Blazers pay.
“Derrick [Jones] was on him, but yeah, he got into a little foul trouble," Terry Stotts said postgame. "No matter who was on him, he was having success… I don’t think it was a question of foul trouble.”
When you're hot, you're hot. But there's also something to be said about how and when a player picks up fouls and how that plays into the opponents' hands.
Even if the racked up fouls for Portland’s wings didn’t seem to hinder their defense on Curry in Coach Stotts’ eyes, there were a handful of times when Covington seemed to step out of the way when a Warrior was running down the lane and not being as aggressive on that end of the court.
But again this goes back to the Warriors being on the attack from the jump.
As Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard, who notched 32 points, four rebounds, and four assists, explained postgame, foul calls typically go to the aggressor.
But despite all the calls racked up against the Blazers early on, the free throw attempts all came out in the wash by the end of Sunday's game. Portland went 26-of-33 from the line to Golden State’s 26-of-34.
Even though Lillard believes the foul trouble “definitely played a part in the game,” he made sure to emphasize that with Curry’s career night, it’d be difficult for any team to walk away victorious. Plus, the Blazers made too many mistakes of their own.
“When a guy is going like that, you have to send bodies to him and make his life a little harder,” Lillard added. “I thought that [the Warriors] did a good job at getting him open, finding him, screening for him, and executing what they needed to get him as many opportunities as possible. We didn’t play well enough, we fouled too much, and we put ourselves in tough positions. We just continued to compete and we came up short.”