After three full days off for the Golden State Warriors, the reigning champs were expected to hold serve (at least according to Las Vegas) in Game 1 against the Portland Trail Blazers, even without Kevin Durant on the floor. Exactly 48 minutes later, that expectation came to fruition, with Steph Curry exploding for 36 points and nine three-pointers in keying a 116-94 victory on Tuesday night.
As often is the case, the evening began in positive fashion for the Warriors, who held the lead for the vast majority of the early going. Curry scored eight points in the first quarter and he keyed the offense in on-brand fashion.
Not to be outdone, Draymond Green enjoyed a strong first quarter, posting six points, six rebounds and three assists to go along with his trademark defensive impact.
Golden State wasn’t lights-out offensively on the whole, but they took advantage of six turnovers from the Blazers to take a 27-23 lead into the second quarter. From there, the biggest blow of the first half was soon to follow, with the Warriors scoring eight straight points to take a 42-32 lead. To their credit, the Blazers rallied to climb within a four-point margin at 46-42, but the end of the second quarter belonged to Curry, who scored Golden State’s final eight points, including back-to-back threes in the final 40 seconds.
That spurt gave the Warriors a nine-point halftime advantage and Curry was the clear star before the break. He scored 19 points, including four long-range connections, and Golden State’s defense was stingy in holding Portland to just 31.6 percent shooting in the first half. The Blazers were able to stay connected on the strength of 14-for-14 from the free throw line but, aside from that, there wasn’t much to write home about for the visiting team.
To begin the third quarter, things weren’t any better for the Blazers, as Curry continued to cook. The two-time NBA MVP buried his fifth and sixth threes of the evening in short order, giving the Warriors their largest lead of the night at 62-48.
Golden State continued to build from there, using an 11-2 overall run to take a 17-point lead after yet another three from Curry.
Portland would put together a run, however, using an 11-3 spurt to climb within striking distance at 73-64. In fact, the Blazers closed the third quarter on a high note in slashing the margin to 77-71 with only 12 minutes remaining.
Still, the Warriors would not yield and, when Klay Thompson buried a three to give the home team a double-figure lead again, it was an advantage Golden State would never lose.
Quickly, Steve Kerr’s team pushed the margin back to 16 and, while the Blazers did string together one last threat, the suspense never fully materialized on the way to the end result.
Curry was the star of the evening, leading the Warriors with 36 points including 9-for-15 from three-point distance. For good measure, he added seven assists and six rebounds, with Thompson (26 points) and Green (12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three blocks, two steals) providing ample support.
The two teams will reconvene in Oakland on Thursday evening, but the Blazers will need a more effective plan to slow the Splash Brothers or, simply put, this may not be a long series.