The debate of whether Kevin Durant should take the floor in Game 2 was the center of discussion leading up to last night’s tip-off. Should he play or should the Warriors not take a chance? Well, KD didn’t play and the Warriors still won by 29 points – go figure.
This game was all about the benches of both the Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers. The stars of the night struggled mightily which in return, transitioned the game into a situation of who’s role players will perform better. For Golden State, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry combined for 35 points on 12-of-35 shooting from the field and 7-of-20 from behind the arc. Not your typical night by the Splash Brothers.
On the other end, Portland’s backcourt didn’t have their best showing either. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for only 23 points after scoring 75 points in Game 1. They were a horrific 9-of-34 from the field and 1-of-7 from behind the arc. It was the complete opposite performance from Game 1 where it seemed buckets came so easily. Both Lillard and McCollum were smothered heavily and really struggled for the 23 points that they were able to scrounge up.
With no Kevin Durant and the Splash Brothers struggling you wouldn’t envision a 29-point victory for the Golden State Warriors. But their defense and supporting unit were the reason for their control of the game.
Golden State came out firing with great energy and swarming defense leading to a 33-17 1st quarter. However, the Trail Blazers fought their way back getting the game within one point during the 2nd. But JaVale McGee played hero, leading a run where he seemed to catch lob after lob after lob while also defending the paint on defense.
He had 13 points at the end of the half shooting 6-for-6 from the field, combined with three blocks on the other side of the ball. The Golden State Warriors continued their defensive dominance as they held the Trail Blazers to a 12 point 3rd quarter. They gained their separation and Portland was never able to come back from it.
The Trail Blazers can’t afford games like this where they’re not playing their best. As we saw tonight, even when Golden State’s deflated with injuries and having a bad night, they still have the ability to win by a substantial margin. Coming into this series I said that Portland would have to play an almost perfect game to come out victorious and I was wrong. There’s no almost, they HAVE to play perfectly if they’re going to win.
Lillard and McCollum have to play big and their role players have to knock down shots. Going back to Portland, I’m curious to see if they are able to come out and play behind the energy of their fans to make the game competitive. After this dominant victory, I’m sure Coach Kerr won’t be rushing to bring back Durant so let’s see if the Trail Blazers are able to use that to their advantage.