After one of the greatest playoff rounds in recent memory, and likely the most entertaining second round of all time capped off by Kawhi Leonard’s multiple-bounce series winner, it was going to be hard for the conference finals to live up to that level of drama.
Game 1 of Golden State-Portland was a bad start, as the Warriors won comfortably, 116-94. The game might have been even worse than expected, as neither team brought the requisite energy of an NBA final four bout. Truthfully, the Draft Lottery before the game was far more compelling than anything that came during the contest.
On the one hand, it really isn’t fair for the Trail Blazers, fresh off a dramatic Game 7 win of their own against the Denver Nuggets, to be expected to compete against Warriors. Portland and Golden State have faced off in the playoffs twice during this era of Warriors hegemony, and the only game the Blazers won came with Steph Curry inactive back in 2016.
With Jusuf Nurkic out and Enes Kanter manning the middle, Portland has very little chance of effectively containing Golden State on defense, which doesn’t come as a surprise. Kanter also played the Warriors in the playoffs as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016. He was riding high after being an integral part of the Thunder’s upset over the 67-win Spurs in the previous round, but was played off the court by Curry and Klay Thompson in the conference finals. A similar scenario is playing out this year.