OAKLAND - In the NBA playoffs, you have to be able to take a punch. The San Antonio Spurs hit the Oklahoma City Thunder so hard in the jaw on Saturday night that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are still hitting the smelling salts.
Sunday afternoon in Oakland it was the Portland Trail Blazers turn to see stars. Golden State led by as many as 26 on their way to a 118-106 win over the Blazers. Portland looked overmatched from the tip, but at least they kept the score within reason.
Klay Thompson showed no mercy as he dropped in one jumper after another. When he wasn’t canning 3-pointers, it was Draymond Green flying around with his first triple-double of the playoffs or Shaun Livingston using his size advantage in the post.
The Warriors jumped all over the Blazers early, taking a 37-17 lead out of the first quarter. Portland seemed stunned, maybe even overwhelmed by the speed and intensity of the Warriors attack.
“It was disappointing to get off to such a poor start,” Terry Stotts said. “Our offense, we had trouble scoring. Their defense got into us. We struggled at both ends,”
Damian Lillard struggled to find his shot early. He finished the night with 30 points after an 18-point outburst in the fourth, but he hit for just 8-for-26 from the field.
“I got some looks that I need to make,” Lillard said during his postgame media session. “C.J. (McCollum) did as well. We’ve just got to be better offensively if we want to have a chance against this team.”
McCollum, Lillard's run and gun backcourt mate, couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. The NBA’s Most Improved Player shot just 5-of-17 from the field on his way to 12 points.
The Warriors showed quickly against both Lillard and McCollum, walling them off before dropping back into their defensive sets. When they were able to get free, both Green, along with big men Andrew Bogut and Anderson Varejao, were waiting in the lane to challenge every shot.
“We’ve just got to take advantage of what they do,” McCollum said. “If they’re doubling, find the open man and when we have opportunities to be aggressive we have to attack.”
With their two biggest guns jammed up, the Blazers found keeping up with the high-powered Warriors impossible. Golden State never trailed and they led by as many as 26 in the win.
Allen Crabbe posted a solid 15 point effort off the Blazers bench, but Stotts needed more. Al-Farouq looked overwhelmed early, but still managed to drop in 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting.
Gerald Henderson might have been the only Trail Blazer to get the message that his team was in a fight. The veteran went at Varejao after the two got tangled in the third and were both assessed technical fouls. Eventually they would both hit the showers early with a second round of double techs.
Portland will need a much better effort on Tuesday night if they have any hope of avoiding a 2-0 hole in the series. The Warriors are likely without NBA MVP Stephen Curry for at least one more game, so it is imperative that they take advantage of any and all opportunities.