The Golden State Warriors were able to take care of business in six games last series. The Portland Trailblazers were able to take down the Denver Nuggets in a very gritty seven game series. A lot of people are doubting the Blazers, that may be the best thing for them. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum do very well under pressure. Dame ended the Oklahoma City Thunder series on one huge three pointer, and McCollum hit the dagger to completely kill the Nuggets hopes of advancing.
I wouldn’t be so quick to write these guys off because they hold one of the most volatile offensive duos in the NBA. Another thing that could be potentially key to the Blazers finals hopes, Kevin Durant and Demarcus Cousins are both not close to returning according to Steve Kerr. There are a couple huge match-ups in this series though. The biggest is not Dame vs. Steph, or C.J. vs. Klay. In reality, it is Seth vs. Seth. Curry vs. Curry. Which Curry makes it to the finals? Which Curry fizzles out too early? And which Curry brings the heat? Okay I’m done, now onto the article.
Portland Trailblazers: Scoring, scoring, and more scoring
Let’s take a look at the Blazers side first. The fact is, Dame has solidified himself as one of the top point guards in the NBA right now. He is averaging 28.4 points per game on 43.1% from the field. He also makes 3.8 threes a game on 37.5% from behind the arc. They are a little down from the Thunder series, but the star point guard should have a pretty good series. McCollum on the other hand, is averaging 25.6 points per game on 45.5% from the field. He is making 2.9 threes a game on 40.7% from behind the arc. These are some great offensive numbers from two of the games best scoring guards. When they are both cooking, it is so difficult to stop them on the offensive side. Add in Enes Kanter, Rodney Hood (if healthy, hyper-extended knee) and even Seth Curry, they are all able to score in bunches. The Blazer’s claim to fame this season is their offense. They run a pretty high-scoring offense. As a team, they averaged 114.7 points a game on 46.7% from the field and they allowed an astonishing 110.5 points a game on 45.7% from the field to their opponent. That is some pretty bad defense. They do need to clean up on the defensive side to beat the Warriors.
Golden State Warriors: Turning up the defense
The Warriors are best when they run in transition. They are able to get open looks at the basket, as well as open three pointers. Defense will lead to transition offense, so the Warriors need to keep the pressure on the defensive side. This should work in their favor against the Blazers too. The Blazers are without their rim protector Jusif Nurkic and the Warriors need to take advantage of this. This is the same for the Blazers as well, the Warriors are without their two rim protectors, Demarcus Cousins and Kevin Durant. The Warriors are obviously led by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. These stats will all be playoff averages. Steph has averaged 24.3 points per game on 44.4% from the field and he also makes 3.6 threes a game on a pedestrian 37.1% from behind the arc. Well pedestrian for Curry that is. Klay has averaged 18.3 points per game on 45.2% from the field and he is making 2.9 threes a game on 41.2% from behind the three point line. As a duo, they are still playing very well. But Dame and C.J. are both outperforming their counter parts. That is where the Warriors extra star power comes into effect. Draymond is averaging 12.6 points a game on 51.2% from the field, but he also chips in 9.3 rebounds a game and he also dishes out 8 assists a game. During the regular season, the warriors averaged 117.7 points a game on 49.1% from the field, and they allowed 111.2 points a game on 44.4% from the field. The Warriors have a higher point differential and a slight advantage in points per game, but both teams have similar defenses.
With how talented both teams are, and also taking into account the injuries that both sides possess, the Warriors should admittedly win this one. There is no reason they shouldn’t. They have a good amount of guys that can switch onto anybody and they were able to take Clint Capela out of each game because of this. That is the first step, taking Portland’s bigs out of the game. If the Warriors can do that, then rebounding won’t be as difficult and they will be able get into the paint without a big body inside. On the other hand, keeping Kanter on the floor should be very interesting. When Kanter is on the floor, the Warriors need to take advantage of this. They can do this by running a pick and roll each and every time down the floor. Kanter won’t pick up on the shooter because he just won’t come out on the passer. If the Warriors are able to run an effective pick and roll then it should be easy buckets all night long. Also forcing switches onto C.J. and Dame should be a priority as well. Portland’s guards have never been known to play defense for the entirety of games, so letting Steph and Klay switch onto them should to be an attacking point for the Warriors.
All in all, you never want to count out Damian Lillard. He has been phenomenal all season long, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Dame went off this series. He is in front of his hometown and Dame always gets hyped for big games like this. But with all this being said, I just think the Warriors have too much fire power in their starting lineup. I predict the Warriors to win in five games.
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