NBA Playoffs: Warriors vs Blazers Preview
(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (8) Portland Trail Blazers -After setting the NBA record with three consecutive seasons of at least 67 wins, the Golden State Warriors open their round one series with the Portland Trail Blazers as the odds on favorite to win their second NBA Championship in the last three years. Golden State had won 14 in a row until a 105-99 lost to the Utah Jazz on Monday evening while the Trail Blazers finished the season 18-5 after a 24-35 start. Golden State swept the season series, 4-0, as the Warriors have won four of their last five season series and nine of the last 10 regular season tilts. In playoff meetings, Golden State was won four of the five match ups.
Key Matchups -
Stephen Curry vs. Damian Lillard - Easily two of the top scoring machines in the NBA. Those who say Curry is slowing are laughable. His unselfishness in bringing in Kevin Durant and working within the framework of the team is a major reason why's stats are down from the last three years. Curry averaged 27.3 points while shooting 48.4 percent from the 3-point line in three games against the Trail Blazers this season…..Lillard averaged 23.3 points in shooting 45.8 percent from the field while netting a 38.9 percent mark from three. The Oakland native also reeled off a Blazers record 59 points in an April 8 win over Utah.
Draymon Green vs. the Portland interior - Green’s physicality on the boards and on defense will be a major issue for Maurice Harmless, Meyers Leonard, and Al Farouq Aminu inside. Green is so relentless on defense that he became the first Warrior to record at least 150 steals and 100 blocks in a season since 1973-74…..Ideally for the Blazers, 7-0, 280-lb. Jusuf Nurkic would see major minutes against Green and Zaza Pachulia. He was acquired from the Nuggets in mid-February and averaged a double-double over the next 20 games before suffering a fractured fibula in late March.
Kevin Durant vs. Aminu on the perimeter - Portland’s Terry Stotts is likely to give the defensive responsibility on KD to primarily Al Farouq Aminu. The Blazers have to have him on the boards as well and his length is the major facet vs, Durant, who averaged 29.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists in four games against the Trail Blazers this season. C.J. McCollum is another option on Durant for Portland, though they definitely can’t afford to sacrifice offense for defense in this series.
Winner - Warriors in five. This is a consummate 1 vs. 8 matchup where the top team should role. There are many really great outside scorers in this game for both teams as Klay Thompson, Curry, Andres Iguodala, and Durant will see a host of Blazers in Lillard, McCollum and Allen Crabbe, who has come on late in the season. The Warriors have too much talent and aggressiveness on defense. Golden State led the NBA in defensive field goal percentage and led the league in blocks and steals while averaging a league-high 19.3 points per game off of turnovers.