Saturday, 24 February, 2018

Blazers need more than just Lillard, McCollum vs Warriors

Kristopher Love | 20 April, 2017, 06:44

For three quarters Sunday afternoon, the Portland Trail Blazers looked ready to shock the basketball community and steal a Game 1 win against Golden State on their home court.

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, left, and forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrate during the second half of Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers in Oakland, Calif., Sun. Kevin Durant had 32 points and ten rebounds, while Stephen Curry added 29 points, five boards and four assists.

Nurkic, traded to Portland on February 12 from the Denver Nuggets, missed the last seven games of the regular season as well as Game 1 against the Warriors with a non-displaced right leg fracture.

However, it was on the defensive end where his impact was too much for the Trail Blazers to overcome.

Green was the most impactful player on the floor to start this series. CJ McCollum (41 points, eight rebounds) and Damian Lillard (32 points, five rebounds, three assists) were sensational in Game 1, but for the most part the rest of the Blazers' complementary pieces struggled. "Blazers in six", the Weber State product casually remarked to the surrounding throngs of reporters, predicting that he and Portland would dethrone the reigning Western conference champs and owners of the NBA's best record. The Warriors won 121-109. The Warriors have the best offense in the league so limiting them in transition is a must for the Blazers. Isaiah Thomas, who played despite losing his younger sister to an accident, had a game-high 33 points in a losing effort for the Celtics. The only chance the Trail Blazers have at stealing a win from the Warriors is if Nurkic returns to the lineup and can make an impact inside.

Just one game into their 2017 title chase, the Warriors have been delivered a scare. Golden State will need to clean up ball-control a bit in Game 2 to repeat their result.

Bulls 106, Celtics 102: Jimmy Butler had 30 points and nine rebounds and the Chicago Bulls outlasted Boston in Game 1 on an emotional night for grieving Celtics star Isaiah Thomas. It's unrealistic to expect Lillard and McCollum to put up that kind of production over the course of a seven game series, but even if they could, Golden State has shown that they can weather the Portland backcourt's deluge of scoring and respond in kind.