Culture of Hoops

Warriors Lifted by Draymond Green’s Defense to Game 1 Win

The Golden State Warriors defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of their series in large part because of one man – Draymond Green. The expected Defensive Player of the Year winner logged 19 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists, 5 blocks, and 3 steals in Golden State’s 121-109 win. Green’s defensive gem included two memorable blocks, one of Noah Vonleh and the other of Damian Lillard.

Green’s excellence and Kevin Durant going 12-20 from the floor for a 32/10 game helped the Warriors survive a surprisingly difficult test from the Blazers. Game 1 was tied 56-56 at the half, a result few expected, following the Herculean effort of C.J. McCollum. The Lehigh product posted 41 points in about 41 minutes of action, scoring on an array of floaters, contested mid-range jumpers, and triples.

While McCollum was stupendous, Lillard was more in the realm between good and great. His 34 points and 26 shots displayed a highly needed aggression, however, he only went 3-9 from deep and lacked the same surgical precision as his running mate, McCollum. Evan Turner chipped in with 12 points and Maurice Harkless had 11, an aspect that revealed the difference in depth between these teams.

Put simply, it took massive efforts from McCollum and Lillard for Portland to have a chance. On the other end, the Warriors won with Klay Thompson going 6-16 from the floor (1-6 on threes) and Stephen Curry putting up a 3-8 from deep line and 5 turnovers.

Curry was still quite good with 29 points on a more than reasonable 9-19 overall shooting number, but he wasn’t at his absolute best. With Durant excelling in Game 1 and Green putting up a Scottie Pippen type of performance, a solid but not mesmerizing Curry and a poor Thompson didn’t change Golden State’s fate. Portland lacks the same luxury of having its stars be merely good or off. They have to perform exceptionally for even a single game to be stolen.

The Warriors were also aided by the energy of Javale McGee and the production of Ian Clark. McGee hustled for multiple loose balls and made the most of his roughly 9 minutes of action. Clark went 4-5 from the field for 12 points in 12 total minutes. With the star power Golden State presents, its nearly impossible for opponents to win when secondary players such as McGee and Clark also contribute.

Portland showed enough in Game 1 for fans to think they’ll continue sniffing a win during some point of this series. That stated, even with the Blazers being unafraid and having two outstanding guards, the star power and depth of the Warriors all but guarantees this series won’t last particularly long.

Game 2 will be on Wednesday, 4/19 at 10:30 PM ET.

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