Game 3 Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Moda Center. TV: ESPN and NBC Sports Bay Area (formerly CSN Bay Area). Radio: KGMZ 95.7 “The Game” in Oakland and San Francisco, KRTY 95.3 in San Jose, KUIC 95.3 in Solano County, KION 1460 and 101.1 in Salinas and Monterey.
Game 1: After being matched through three quarters, the Warriors unleashed a defensive blitz in the fourth to win 121-109 on Sunday at Oracle Arena. With the score 88-88, Golden State began the fourth quarter with a 15-2 run to take a 103-90 lead and comfortably cruised from there. Draymond Green was sensational with 19 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and five blocks. Time and again, he showed that he is the best help defender in basketball. And he even hit three 3-pointers. Kevin Durant, in his first playoff game as a Warrior, had 32 points and 10 rebounds.
Game 2: Even without Durant (calf strain), Shaun Livingston (finger and hand contusion) and Matt Barnes (foot sprain), the Warriors had plenty in reserve to rout the Blazers 110-81 at Oracle Arena. Golden State was outstanding defensively in the first and third quarters, outscoring Portland 33-17 and 28-12. Stephen Curry led a balanced attack with 19 points as four other Warriors scored in double figures. Green had one of the finest six-point games in recent memory, collecting 12 rebounds, 10 assists, a steal and three blocks. He had six rebounds and six assists in 9 minutes, 51 seconds of work in an impressive first quarter.
Game 4: Monday, April 24 at Moda Center, 7:30 p.m. TNT and NBC Sports Bay Area
Game 5: Wednesday, April 26 at Oracle Arena, Time and TV TBA
Game 6: Friday, April 28 at Moda Center, Time and TV TBA
Game 7: Sunday, April 30 at Oracle Arena, Time and TV TBA
PLAYING IT SAFE?
Durant, who missed Game 2, went through a full practice Friday but is still listed as questionable for tonight. With a 2-0 series lead and coming off a 29-point victory without him, it would make sense for the Warriors to take a cautious approach and hold him out for Game 3. Even if Golden State loses tonight, Durant could play in Game 4 and the Warriors could still be in position to wrap up the series at home in Game 5.
Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic could be the key to Portland’s success in this series, but we might not find out tonight. Nurkic has missed the first two games of the series while recovering from a nondisplaced fracture to the fibula in his right leg. Oddly, he was listed as “questionable” for Game 1, then ruled “out” the day before Game 2 and now has been upgraded to “doubtful” for Game 3. Nurkic missed the final seven games of the regular season because of the injury to the smaller bone in the lower leg. Nurkic is a big reason Portland even made the playoffs after coming to the Blazers in a trade with Denver. In 20 games with Portland, he averaged 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.90 blocked shots in 29.2 minutes and the Trail Blazers were 14-6 in those games. His presence would be welcome because of the Warriors’ …
… THREE-HEADED CENTER
The center combination of Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee and David West was outstanding in Game 2. Pachulia played his best overall game in weeks, with 10 points, four rebounds, a steal and several of his customary solid screens in 17 effective minutes. McGee was a monster off the bench, scoring 15 points on 7-for-7 shooting, grabbing five rebounds and blocking four shots in a ridiculously efficient 13 minutes. West had eight points and four assists in only 14 minutes. All told, the trio combined for 33 points on 15-for-20 shooting, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and five blocks in 44 minutes.
The starting backcourts for the Warriors and Blazers were supposed to be the headliners in this series, but in Game 2, both were mortal. Portland guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who combined for 75 points in Game 1, were shut down in Game 2, combining for 23 points on 9-for-34 shooting from the field as Golden State did a better job defending. Meanwhile, Warriors guards Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 35 points on 12 for 35 from the floor. It’s hard to imagine that either backcourt combo will shoot as poorly tonight in Game 3.
The winner of this series will face the winner of the Los Angeles Clippers-Utah Jazz series in the Western Conference semifinals. Those teams tied for the Nos. 4-5 spots in the 51-31, but the Clippers got homecourt advantage by virtue of a 3-1 regular-season series win over the Jazz. But Los Angeles promptly gave up the home court by losing Game 1 97-95 at Staples Center on Joe Johnson’s buzzer beater. Utah lost center and defensive anchor Rudy Gobert 17 seconds into that game to an MCL sprain and bone contusion in his left knee. (Sound familiar, Warriors fans?) The Clippers won Game 2 99-91, then regained homecourt advantage with a 111-106 victory in Game 3 in Salt Lake City on Friday night. The Clippers won even though Blake Griffin missed the second half because of a toe injury. Chris Paul had 34 points and 10 assists as the Clippers survived Gordon Hayward’s 40-point outburst. Game 4 is Sunday night.