The Golden State Warriors are back in the playoffs to avenge what was lost in last summer’s NBA Finals. This time they are equipped with All-Star Forward Kevin Durant. A game that was tied at 56 a piece at the half did not appear to be one that would end up in a Warrior 121-109 victory. Unless, of course, you are familiar of what can potentially happen in the blink of the eye watching the Warriors.
The backcourt of C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined for 24 of the 27 points the Trailblazers as a team scored in the first quarter. The dynamic scoring duo continued to keep their team in the game into halftime by eventually scoring 48 of the 56 points for the Blazers. Meanwhile, Myers Leonard, Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless, and Alan Crabbe all combined only for a total of seven points at the half. The lack of a balance attack is a concern for the Blazers in the series but through three quarters it certainly did not appear so as the third quarter ended 88 a piece for each team.
The fourth quarter would start without Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant in the line-up. The questionable factor of the Warriors this would be how good can their bench be with the loss of Leonardo Barbosa, Maurice Speights or the supporting cast of Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli. Third year guard Ian Clark was the boost off the bench as eight of his 12 points came in the fourth quarter stretch he covered in Curry’s place. Big hustle plays from JaVale McGee also accounted for the Warriors ability to have second chances on the offensive end.
In his first playoff game as a Warrior, Kevin Durant scored 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting accompanied by 10 rebounds. With under seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, Durant would return to score eight points while shooting four-of-five from the field. The ease of shooting a 19-foot jump shot over the undersized C.J. McCollum made KD’s return to the playoffs look all but unfamiliar.
It was an all-around Warrior effort and one that included Draymond Green. 19 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assist and 5 blocks would be the final numbers under Green’s name on the stat sheet. However, as usual it was the few things that do not show up such as the contested shots and passionate defensive leadership that drove the Warriors in the fourth quarter. The impact was holding the Blazers to 21 points opposed to the 31 point fourth quarter the Warriors achieved. One of the defensive adjustments from Steve Kerr in the second half was showing two defenders on Lillard and McCollum to force the role players of the Blazers make plays.
Game two is in Golden State on Wednesday night. Tip-off on TNT at 10:30 PM EST/7:30 PST
Baseline Times Staff Writer