In case it hasn’t been made clear yet, the Warriors are the best team in the league. Even without Steph Curry, this team is still ridiculous. Just wave after smothering wave of attack on both sides of the ball. The Blazers brought a pair of dull scissors to a broadsword fight.
Which is to say, game one’s outcome? Not an aberration. The Blazers are in over their heads this series. Even if they played flawless basketball from here on out, chances are they’d still lose in six. The goal has to be keeping things competitive while giving the Warriors a fight. If Portland is able to take a game or two, it’s all gravy.
Curry is still out for tonight’s contest, but the Warriors hardly missed him in game one. It’s going to be an uphill slog for the Blazers regardless, and their magic may finally be running out. But hey, they lost the first two games against the Clippers by 20+ and look how that series turned out. And if (insert topical Game of Thrones spoiler here), anything is possible!
So what adjustments are there to be made heading into game two? For one, stop Klay Thompson. Klay was on one early, and his endless barrage of threes put Portland in a twenty point hole before anyone (besides Andrew Bogut) had broken a sweat. Trouble is, I’m not sure the Blazers have an answer. CJ McCollum tried his best on defense in game one, but he doesn’t get much more than a “good job, good effort” for his troubles. He just doesn’t have the size to bother Klay, especially coming around screens. And if Portland tries switching CJ and Moe Harkless up on defense, Harrison Barnes will eat McCollum alive in the post.
Terry Stotts does not like to change up his rotations (see: Memphis series last year), but Allen Crabbe probably needs to play as much as possible from here on out. Go small and play him 35 minutes and let Bogut be the one to try and beat you. Bring CJ off the bench as a super sub. It’s all house money, so go nuts.
But Klay is only part of the puzzle. Draymond Green probably had more of an impact—especially his work on the defensive end—and I’m not sure the Blazers can do much to slow him down. More Ed Davis minutes in place of Mason Plumlee is a start, but that’s about it? Al-Farouq Aminu has the length to hold his own, but he is nowhere near the rim protector Draymond is which gives Golden State the clear advantage in any super small lineups. They’re the best team for a reason.
Credit to the Blazers for continuing to fight, though. Even after getting stomped on early, they were able to get things to within single digits during gameplay. The role players were hitting threes, the defense finally settled, Portland stopped turning the ball over, and things were pretty even for the final three quarters. Giving the Warriors a double digit cushion is unfortunately fatal and the Dubs won by twelve—they’re just too good to mount that big of a comeback against.
After slow starts, McCollum and Damian Lillard found a little breathing room in the second half, but they’ll need full performances for the Blazers to have any shot at stealing a game on the road. And considering Lillard sounded like Death had touched him after the game, his voice rattled from a cold he has been fighting, the margin of error continues to shrink.