Stephen Curry scored 36 points on 9-of-15 shooting from behind the arc to lead the Golden State Warriors to a 116-94 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in the first game of the Western Conference Finals.
Klay Thompson added 26 points while Draymond Green scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the winning effort.
Curry Steps Up With Durant Injured
The Warriors were glad to get a strong effort from Curry, as Kevin Durant remains out of the lineup after sustaining an injury against the Houston Rockets in the previous playoff round.
“I know what I’m capable of on the floor. The situation calls for me to be a little bit more aggressive and hopefully that’ll continue,” Curry said after the game. “I didn’t shoot the ball well for four-and-a-half games the last series and got off to a good start tonight. I want to maintain that.”
Golden State led from start to finish, but the Blazers kept the game competitive early, trailing only 54-45 at the half. The deficit shrunk to just six heading into the fourth quarter, but the Warriors scored 39 points in the final frame to put the game out of reach.
Five Portland players scored in double figures in the losing effort, including Damian Lillard, who led the team with 19 points.
Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said that while the loss was disappointing, it was hardly the end of the road for his team.
“It’s not one-and-done. We’ve got a series, it’s one loss,” Stotts told reporters afterwards. “We’ve got to play better, particularly at the offensive end, but we’ve got to be better at both ends.”
No Rest for the Weary
Fatigue may have been a factor for Portland. The Trail Blazers had to survive a tough Game 7 in their conference semifinal series against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night, then travel from Denver to Oakland to play Golden State on Tuesday. That may well have played a factor in Portland’s sloppy play and 36 percent shooting.
Meanwhile, the Warriors had finished off the Rockets in just six games, with the last of those coming on Friday night.
“The schedule favored us,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr told reporters. “I thought we took advantage of the situation and got off to a good start.”
Portland and Golden State will be back in action for Game 2 on Wednesday night. And while it’s not strictly a must-win game for the Trail Blazers, they’ll want to avoid going home down 2-0 against a team that is widely expected to beat them in this series – especially if Durant comes back, which is something that the Warriors are hopeful for, though no timeline for his return has been made public as of yet.
That would require a much better effort from the Trail Blazers. FanDuel Sportsbook has installed Golden State as an eight-point favorite for Game 2, and the Warriors are an overwhelming -950 pick to win the series. Golden State is also -180 to win another NBA title this year, ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks (+240), Toronto Raptors (+550), and Trail Blazers (+3300).