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Stephen Curry hit nine three-pointers en route to 36 points as the No. 1 seed Golden State Warriors beat the No. 3 Portland Trail Blazers 116-94 in Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference Finals on Tuesday.
Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson scored 26, and Draymond Green filled the stat sheet with 12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals.
Golden State never trailed after the first two minutes, but the game was closer than the score indicated.
Portland closed the third quarter on an 11-4 run to pull within 77-71 heading into the fourth. However, Golden State outscored the Blazers by 16 in the final 12 minutes to earn the win.
Damian Lillard scored 19 points for the visitors, who trail 1-0 in the best-of-seven series. CJ McCollum, Moe Harkless and Rodney Hood each scored 17.
Portland’s offensive struggles contributed to the loss, as the team shot just 36.1 percent from the field and committed 21 turnovers.
Steph Can Carry Warriors Past Blazers Without Kevin Durant
FantasyLabs managing director Justin Phan posted some bewildering Curry stats after the point guard’s third quarter ended:
Justin Phan @jphanned
Steph Curry, last 4 quarters:
56 points, 17-29 FG, 11-19 3PT
77.6% eFG, 82.7% TS
Granted, watching Curry light up his opponents isn’t anything new, but he’s been on a tear after shooting just 40.3 percent from the field versus the Houston Rockets in the second round.
And the Warriors needed him tonight. Golden State struggled offensively minus Curry through three quarters, and Thompson started the game 6-of-19.
However, it was Curry’s time to shine Tuesday, and that was most evident in the final 1:04 of the second quarter. He scored eight points during that span, helping turn a 46-42 edge into a 54-45 halftime lead. This layup kicked it off:
The Warriors were particularly adept at giving Curry space off screens, however:
Granted, the Blazers probably didn’t do the best job getting in Curry’s face. Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic pointed out the quality chances, for instance:
Curry wasn’t getting those same looks in the Rockets series, but it didn’t matter in the tail end of that matchup.
He scored 12 fourth-quarter points in a 104-99 Game 5 win sans an injured Durant in the final frame before getting 33 second-half points to close out Houston in Game 6, 118-113.
Ultimately, the two-time NBA MVP is scorching-hot right now, and if he continues this torrid pace, then the Blazers need to be far better than they were Tuesday to make a dent in this series.
No Reason for Trail Blazers to Push Panic Button
The Trail Blazers may have lost by 22 points on a night where Curry did whatever he wanted, but there’s little reason to panic.
The most obvious point: It’s Game 1. Three NBA playoff teams have already won seven-game series 4-1 after losing the opener (the Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks). Portland has time to regroup for Game 2.
Second, Portland faced significant rest and travel disadvantages compared to its opponent.
Golden State finished off its second-round series against Houston Friday night, flew home and rested for three-plus days before Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, Portland finished off a grueling seven-game series against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday afternoon before traveling to the Bay Area and playing Tuesday evening.
Third, Portland was uncharacteristically sloppy with the basketball and cold from the field.
The Blazers committed 13 first-half turnovers, nearly eclipsing their season average (13.3).
Portland also made just 25.0 percent of its threes, far below its season average of 35.9 percent. The Blazers also finished fourth in the NBA in offensive efficiency, per ESPN.com.
The team’s defense on Curry was the only real problem emanating from Game 1, but there’s only so much a team can do to stop arguably the best shooter the game has ever seen.
He might be near-invincible for the remainder of the series, but it’s hard envisioning Portland looking so sluggish on offense for an entire series. Look for a far better performance moving forward.
Golden State will host Portland for Game 2 on Thursday at 9 p.m. ET. ESPN will televise the matchup.