5 Observations from the Dubs' Game 1 Victory Over the Trail Blazers
The Warriors won Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, beating the Trail Blazers, 116-94, behind 62 points from the Splash Brothers and a defensive effort that held Portland to 36.1 percent shooting and the lowest point total by a Dubs opponent this postseason. Here are five observations from the team’s Game 1 victory.
There’s No Party Like a Stephen Curry Splash PartyStephen Curry played the entire first quarter before getting some rest to begin the second quarter. And while he knocked down a couple of treys in the early-going, he began to make his mark on the game late in the first half when he knocked down a pair of treys in the final minute, turning a three-point advantage into a nine-point lead going into the break.
Curry had the Dubs’ last eight points of the first half, and he carried that momentum into the third quarter when he made or assisted on eight of the team’s nine made shots, accounting for 21 of the team’s 23 points. Adding his finish to the first half, the two-time NBA MVP scored or assisted on 29 of the team’s 31 points over a 13-minute stretch spanning the second and third quarters. Curry’s 14 points in the third period included four 3-pointers, and he’d finish the night with nine treys, tying his career-high for splashes in a playoff game.
“It's good to see Steph have a game like that at a time that obviously we need it most,” Draymond Green said. “It was really big for us, and I expect him to continue to play that way.”
Those nine threes were also tied for the third most in a playoff game in NBA history. The only people to exceed that mark also played on Tuesday – Klay Thompson had an NBA record 11 3-pointers in Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals in Oklahoma City, and Damian Lillard made 10 treys during a 50-point performance in a series-clinching win over the Thunder, which he capped with a game-winning 37-foot splash at the buzzer.
Battle of the BackcourtsOne of the most intriguing storylines of this series is the battle of the backcourts. Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson and Damian Lillard/CJ McCollum – each tandem deservedly receives a lot of praise, and the reserve guards on both squads are capable of making an impact as well. In Game 1, the Dubs’ guards had the advantage, as Curry and Thompson outscored Portland’s starting guards by 26. Curry’s 36 points equaled the combined total of Lillard and McCollum, who were 11-for-31 from the field. Thompson didn’t have his most efficient night, but he did get it going in the fourth quarter, going 4-for-5 from the field for 12 of his 26 points in the period.
Dubs Reserves Comes Through AgainIn the previous round against the Rockets, the Warriors relied very little on their bench outside of Kevon Looney until Game 6. This series, the Dubs figure to go Strength in Numbers mode a little more often, according to Coach Kerr. “It's a different matchup, and I think that what you saw tonight is what we'd like to get to every night if we can in terms of playing 10, 11 guys,” the coach said after the game.
On Tuesday, all 13 active players saw some game action, including 11 in the first half. The Dubs started the second and fourth quarters with a lineup of Klay Thompson and four reserves, and not only did the lineup maintain the Dubs’ lead, they increased it. Jonas Jerebko provided some valuable minutes in his first minutes of the game, scoring seven of the team’s 10 points in the second quarter as the Dubs stretched their lead from two to 10 points, their biggest advantage of the game.
Jerebko led all Warriors reserves with nine points, and Quinn Cook scored all eight of his points in the fourth period, including a pair of 3-pointers early in the frame that help put the game out of reach for the Trail Blazers. In total, Warriors reserves outscored Portland’s bench 36-28, with the Trail Blazers’ Rodney Hood’s 17 points being the main reason that the bench battle was so close to begin with.
Damian Jones ReturnsBy the time Damian Jones entered the game with 1:42 left in the fourth quarter, the game was well in-hand for the Dubs. But the fact that Jones entered the game at all had to make Dub Nation feel pretty good. The young center had started 22 games this season, but he was injured on Dec. 1 in Detroit and had surgery a week later to repair a torn left pectoral muscle.
He was just recently cleared for contact and took part in some 3-on-3 pickup games at the Rakuten Performance Center on Monday. And on Tuesday, he tallied three points and rebound in his return to the court, muscling up the Dubs’ final basket of the game.
“Felt good to put him there the last couple minutes and see him do well,” Kerr said. “He's been working unbelievably hard, and he's such a great kid. So it's nice to see DJ back out on the floor.”
Dub Nation Welcomes …The game on the court is just part of what makes a playoff game on Warriors Ground such a special experience. That proved true as former Warriors JaVale McGee, Leandro Barbosa and Baron Davis were recognized in-arena, drawing ravenous roars of approval from all of Dub Nation.
And for even more good feels, all fans at Tuesday’s Game 1 went home with a Google Home Mini … Come for the basketball, stay for the free tech giveaway.
Whether or not the lessons learned in Game 1 will carry over into the rest of the series or it’s more of an outlier remains to be determined, but the most important takeaway is that the Dubs have a 1-0 series lead with another important matchup coming up on Thursday at Oracle Arena.
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