Sparked by Draymond Green’s triple-double, the Golden State Warriors came from behind once again to defeat the Portland Trailblazers 110-99.
Playing without Kevin Durant, the Warriors went on the road and won Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals to take a 3-0 series lead.
Draymond Green dazzled everyone with a triple-double. Green scored 20 points and added 13 rebounds and 12 assists.
“I don’t even know what to say about Draymond,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “He was a wrecking ball, destroying everything in his path.”
Warriors fans held their breath when Andre Iguodala limped off the floor early in the game. Iguodala had calf soreness and returned that half. He only played 18 total minutes and contributed only two points before Kerr pulled him for the remainder if the game. Even without Iggy, the Warriors bench stepped up once again. Kerr was not shy to go deep with seven reserves seeing action.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts benched center Enes Kanter in favor of Meyers Leonard. Kanter became a huge defensive liability and the focal point of the Warriors offense attack. Leonard responded with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. But the Blazers still could not stop Steph Curry and Klay Thomson.
The Splash Brothers outplayed Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum once again. Steph Curry led all scorers with 36 points and Klay Thompson added 19 points. Lillard struggled once again and only scored 19 points, while McCollum led the Blazers with 23 points. They shot a combined 5-for-19 from three-point range.
The fatigued after seven-game series against the Denver Nuggets, including four games in the Mile High City, finally set in for the Blazers. You wouldn’t expect them to look so sluggish while at home, but that’s what happened.
After scoring 66 points in the first half of Game 3, the Blazers ran out of steam in the second half. The Warriors came out of the locker room looking like a new team even though they were down by 13 points. The Warriors held the Blazers to only 13 points in the third quarter and 20 points in the fourth quarter. The Blazers could only muster up 33 total points in the second half. Which seemed shocking to everyone in Portland considered they unleashed 37 points in the second quarter.
Head coach Steve Kerr had a revelation when Kevin Durant went down in Game 5 of the Western Semifinals. He had been holding his bench back up until that point in the Houston series. Once KD was out, Kerr didn’t have a choice but to go to his reserves. They stepped up in the second half of Game 5 and then closed out the series on the road in Game 6.
When the Portland series started, Kerr maintained his re-instilled faith in his bench. When team doctors told him Durant would be out for more game, Kerr didn’t flinch. After all, one of his mantras is “Strength in numbers.”
While the Warriors rested their starters at key moments over the last two games, the Blazers looked absolutely gassed. Their bench did not add the same spark plug they had done in the Denver series. Rodney Hood scored only 3 points. Seth Curry added just 5 points.
Draymond Green is the heart and soul of the Golden State Warriors. If he keeps his head on straight, the Warriors will be in a great position to win. If Green loses his mind, especially with officials, then the Warriors are vulnerable.
The Blazers have not gotten under Green’s skin like the Houston Rockets. You have to credit Green for staying focused.
“Sometimes, I’m not mindful and I’ll get a tech, and that will just kill the energy of our team,” Green told The Athletic. “I’ve really been focused and locked in on that, and I realized I got to a point where I was doing more crying than playing. I’m sure it was disgusting to watch because I felt disgusting playing that way.”
Green stepped up when Durant went down. He welcomed the challenge to do more on both ends of the floor.
On Deck: Game 4 Sweep?
The Blazers host Game 4 in Portland on Monday night. Even though they have home-court advantage and facing elimination, the bookmakers decided that the Warriors were 3-point favorites.
Are the Blazers out of gas? How badly injured is Lillard? Are the Blazers really 3-point home dogs? All of those are great questions and should play out between now and tip-off.
According to the South Point Casino and Sports Book in Las Vegas, the Warriors are -175 to win the NBA championship. The Blazers are the long shot on the board at 200/1.
Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks hold a 2-0 edge over the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals with Game 3 on deck. The Bucks are +160 favorites to win the NBA title.