Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Date and Time: Saturday, April 22, 2017, 10:30 p.m. ET
Location: Moda Center, Portland, OR
Warriors vs. Trail Blazers TV Coverage: ESPN
The Warriors shed plenty of complementary pieces during the offseason in order to sign Durant and the big question was whether they had enough depth to make another deep playoff run. Well, that’s no longer a question. Golden State played without K.D., Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes on Wednesday and routed the Blazers, 110-81, to take a commanding lead in the series. And the scary part is that the Dubs won the game by not playing their best. Golden State shot 44 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from three-point land.
With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson not producing their usual outrageous numbers, the Warriors got contributions from Zaza Pachulia and Patrick McCaw in the starting lineup, and JaVale McGee off the bench. McGee had a monster game making all seven of his field goals for 15 points along with five rebounds in just over 13 minutes of run time. For the Dubs it was about defense and contending shots, which they did expertly, holding Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum to 23 points after the two combined for 75 in Game 1.
The Blazers are faced with the same scenario as last season. Portland lost the first two games on the road and avoided a sweep by winning Game 3 at home. They hope history repeats itself, at least up until Saturday. And if the Blazers are to get back in the series, they’ll need the backcourt duo of McCollum and Lillard to break free from the shackles of Golden State’s defense.
With nearly every shot contested, the two were a combined 9 of 34 from the floor and 1 of 7 from three-point range for 23 points. Evan Turner, Noah Vonleh and Mo Harkless are fine players, but not scorers, and the Blazers suffered offensively, producing their third-lowest point total of the season. It resulted in the team’s cashing the under for the third time in the past five meetings. Portland’s past three wins in the series have all come at home, but the last one was nine games ago.
The Warriors certainly didn’t miss Durant, who sat out Game 2 with a strained calf. But their offense looked out of sync, a little reminiscent of how they played when he went down in late February. The under was 15-5 in the 20 games he missed, including the contest he was injured after playing just over a minute. And the team’s played below the closing total on Wednesday with Durant’s 26 points per game out of the lineup.
While the Dubs have worked around the loss of Durant, the Blazers could sure use Jusuf Nurkic, who remains sidelined. The Dubs pounded the Blazers inside and took advantage without Nurkic protecting the rim. It wasn’t the game plan, but it worked out for Golden State with Curry and Thompson not their usual three-draining selves. Pachulia, McGee and Draymond Green were the difference-makers in this one and they’ll be there to pick up the crumbs again.
Warriors vs. Trail Blazers Free Picks
Portland just doesn’t have the firepower to compete if Lillard and McCollum both struggle. Hell, it would be a chore to beat the Dubs even if they are performing well, as Game 1 showed us. But without them, the Blazers have no chance. And that’s why they’ll both show up for Saturday’s tilt. Without K.D. the Dubs worked hard on the defensive end to slow the two down and their strategy paid off, limiting the Blazers to just 12 third quarter points while holding Lillard and McCollum to 23 points combined.
Durant should be ready to go on Saturday, but given how the Dubs have performed without him and up 2-0, I could see Kerr sitting him for another game to make sure he’s completely healed. That and playing at home will be enough for the Blazers to get a win, though it won’t be by much. Check back for odds at BookMaker.eu and expect the Blazers to get a few points and take them. But without Durant, the teams will likely play below the total.
Warriors vs. Trail Blazers ATS Pick: Grab the points with Portland at BookMaker.eu
Warriors vs. Trail Blazers Score Prediction: Trail Blazers 112 – Golden State 107