Even with Kevin Durant still sidelined to injury, the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors took care of business Tuesday evening.
Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between Golden State and the Portland Trail Blazers at Oracle in Oakland ended with the home team coming out on top, 116-94.
Here’s a look at the top takeaways from Golden State’s resounding series opening victory.
Strength in numbers
With Durant sidelined, the Warriors had to rely on others to contribute off the bench. Game 1 saw that on full display with the likes of Jonas Jerebko, Alfonzo McKinnie, Quinn Cook and Kevon Looney going for 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting.
Having been more aggressive as of late, Draymond Green also added 12 points to go with 10 rebounds and five assists in the game. The Warriors are going to need this type of contribution until Durant returns.
Struggles for Portland’s backcourt
We knew full well that the backcourts would play a huge role in this series. The Blazers need to win that matchup to have a chance. It didn’t happen Tuesday evening at Oracle.
C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined for just 19 first-half points on 5-of-16 shooting. That eventually led to Golden State being up nine at intermission. It didn’t get much better in the final two quarters. These star guards ultimately shot 11-of-31 from the field. That’s not going to cut it.
Warriors defensive scheme pays off
Golden State clearly wanted to take the ball out of Lillard’s hands early and often. He was doubled throughout the evening, leading to a surprising 13 turnovers in the opening half.
Whether it was Klay Thompson or Steph Curry on Lillard, Golden State made it hard for the All-Star to generate offense. It will be interesting to see how Terry Stotts and Co. adjust in Game 2.
Stephen Curry’s finger seems fine
Like we saw in the last round, Curry seemed to start slowly from distance. He hit on 2-of-5 three-point attempts in the first half before nailing consecutive treys to close the second quarter out. From there, an active Curry remained aggressive.
He didn’t settle for threes throughout the evening, putting a ton of pressure on Portland’s defense in the process. When all was said and done, Curry dropped 36 points on 12-of-23 shooting. That included 9-of-15 from beyond the arc. Portland will have to do a better job containing him moving forward.
Blazers need more production from bench
Portland’s bench scored just 28 points in Game 1. That included Seth Curry and Evan Turner combining for three points on 1-of-8 shooting. The only role player to step up was Rodney Hood, who connected on 4-of-8 shots.
Portland is not going to make this a series if it has to rely too much on McCollum and Lillard. It’s the same thing we saw in previous playoff failures against Golden State.
Not missing Kevin Durant
In addition to Curry’s otherworldly performance, Golden State got a huge game from its other Splash Brother. Klay Thompson scored 26 points and played tremendous defense against a guard-oriented Blazers team.
There’s going to come a point when these Warriors miss Durant. He’s the planet’s best player. But by virtue of what we saw from the Warriors’ two other All-Stars, it might not be in this series.