Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard

Who’s going to be the next man up for the Portland Trail Blazers?

Jusuf Nurkic was ruled out just before the first game between the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers and Game 1 proved that they need him back as soon as possible. CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard combined for 75 points and the Trail Blazers still lost.

This is a sight for sore eyes for all Portland fans around the world. McCollum and Lillard played damn near perfect and it still wasn’t enough. Dame scored 34 points on 12-for-26 from the field and grabbed five rebounds. Meanwhile his comrade was a man on a mission.

McCollum was hot from the field dropping 41 points on 16-for-28 from the field while also grabbing eight rebounds. These two made basket after basket. Whether it was a deep three, a tough contested lay-up, or a mid-range jumper, every shot they put up seemed to fall. However, the rest of their team didn’t follow suit.

Outside of their dynamic backcourt, the rest of the Trail Blazers scored a combined 34 points with Evan Turner and Maurice Harkless leading with 12 and 11 points respectively. Obviously this just isn’t enough. If your two main players are scoring 70+ and you still lose then that means the role players on the squad have no choice but to step up if they wish to be victorious.

But at the same time, there must be some defense involved in the equation. Even with how much Portland was able to put on the board, they still allowed five Golden State players to score in double figures. That kind of defensive effort is never going to lead to a victory.

Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard

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Kevin Durant had 32 points, Stephen Curry had 29, Draymond Green scored 19, Klay Thompson had 15 and Ian Clark added 12 clutch points of his own. Outside of Draymond’s 19 points, he stuffed the stat sheet and proved his case for Defensive Player of the Year.

Green grabbed 12 rebounds and had nine assists, five blocks, and three steals. His presence was felt all throughout this game and he was the determining factor.

Golden State played tough and despite the onslaught from CJ and Dame, they were able to keep their composure. They continued to play solid defense and just tried to wear them down:

“When they got it going, they’re hitting tough shots in the first half, some you’ve just got to live with, we played great defense,” Curry said. “They were just able to finish, but over the course of 48 you just try to wear them down.”

Going forward it will be interesting to see if the “others” of Portland can step up to the plate and take a load off of Dame and CJ’s shoulders. Dame said they could win in six and unless he and McCollum are going to combine for 100, he better talk to his teammates if he’s going to pull through on that promise.

If I’m Golden State I would do exactly what they did in Game 1. Despite Portland’s backcourt going off, they held everyone else to subpar numbers and if they can do that consistently then this series will be over soon. My only concern is the turnovers. That’s always been their Achilles heel and when you have 16 against a team like Portland, you always give them a chance.

Game 2: Wednesday, 10:30 PM ET, TNT. 

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