Western Conference Finals: Game 1 (Warriors lead 1-0)
3. Portland Trail Blazers (94) – 1. Golden State Warriors (116)
In Game 7 of the series against the Houston, the Rockets resorted to trapping Steph Curry with hard double teams. They forced the ball out of Curry’s hands and had his teammates do the work in the first half. Curry eventually broke free of the Rockets’ defense in the second half and eliminated them with a scorching performance.
The Blazers were also on the receiving end of a red-hot Curry performance. But in this case, they were partially at fault. The Blazers defense opted not to follow the Rockets defense and instead had their bigs drop back to defend the paint. That call put all the pressure on Curry’s defenders to fight through screens to contest his shots.
Unfortunately for Portland, Curry got a ton of good looks at the basket once he was freed by the initial screen. With vitually no one contesting several of his outside shots, he had a field day, dropping 36 points on 52.2% shooting. Curry’s outside shot was clicking today. He nailed nine threes at a 60% clip.
The Warriors started to pull away in the second quarter after back to back threes from Curry. From a three-point lead, they took a nine-point lead heading to the half. Curry got a wide open look near the top of the key after Draymond Green took Damian Lillard out with a screen. In his second trey before the end the first half, CJ McCollum escaped the screen and was able to contest Curry’s shot. But it didn’t matter, Curry drilled it in anyway.
That trend continued in the second half with Curry getting wide-open looks off the high pick and roll.
The main culprit in today’s bad defensive show by the Blazers was Enes Kanter. He was dropping way too far back on defense and was in no position to challenge the Warriors shooters. The drop back defense was bad but his lack of movement to deter shots at the rim was worse. That should be one area where he should be able to use his size to at least make shots inside more difficult.
You know when a player is playing awful defense when a mixtape is made of their defensive lapses (Hi, LeBron!).
After the game, Coach Terry Stotts was asked about his defensive scheme in Game 1. He was having none of it.
Terry Stotts is IN NO MOOD. pic.twitter.com/RspBRpI4CO
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 15, 2019
He has a point though. That’s the thing about Curry and the Warriors. They’ve been doing this at a championship-level for so long now that they have a counter to almost every defense thrown at them. Houston tried to trap Curry in Game 7, it didn’t work. The Blazers dropped their defense back in the Game 1, it didn’t work.
The problem now is Curry has snapped out of his funk. With Durant gone, he’s taken over in the past two games. His ethereal scoring is back like it never left. The Blazers will need a solid defensive plan in Game 2 to prevent the Warriors from taking another game from them.
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