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Warriors race past Blazers in Western Finals opener 116-94

BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER

Steph Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 62 points, leading the Golden State Warriors to a 116-94 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in the opening game of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals Tuesday night at Oracle Arena.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Steph Curry of the Warriors drives to the basket around Portland’s Rodney Hood during Golden State’s 116-94 win over the Blazers in the opening game of the Western Conference Finals.

Playing without the injured Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, the Warriors looked fresh after four days of rest following their Friday night ouster of Houston, while Portland seemed to be showing the effects of a letdown following their emotional Game 7 win in Denver just two days ago.

The Warriors never trailed after the opening minutes of the game, connecting on 50% of their shots while the Blazers only converted 36%. Portland also committed a season-high 21 turnovers and only shot 25% from beyond the three point line.

Curry led all scorers with 36 points (12-23) in 35 minutes, tying his personal post-season best of 9 three’s on 15 attempts while adding six rebounds and seven assists. Thompson (10-24) tallied 26 and Draymond Green contributed 12 points to go along with 10 rebounds. The Warriors bench was also a key as Jonas Jerebko provided a spark with nine points and five boards while Quinn Cook added eight points.

The Blazers were paced by Damian Lillard’s 19 points (4-12) while CJ McCollum (7-19), Moe Harkless and Rodney Hood each added 17. Enes Kanter had 16 boards to lead all rebounders.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Portland’s Damian Lillard looks to pass against the defense of Draymond Green and Steph Curry during the Warriors 116-94 win over Portland Tuesday night in the opening game of the Western Conference Finals.

After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked about his teams effectiveness shutting down McCollum and Lillard. “Well, they are a tremendous backcourt. We’re well aware of what they are capable of. So we’re paying a lot of attention to them. Just trying to stay all over them if we can and not give up anything easy, and I thought our defense was good, but I also thought we benefited from the schedule. We were able to finish our last series on Friday and they had to go to a tough Game 7 in Denver and a quick turnaround, so the schedule favored us, and I thought we took advantage of the situation and got off to a good start.”

Curry was asked about Portland coming out stronger for Game 2, saying “It’s like that every series when you win the first game at home. It’s what you’re supposed to do. We obviously played well tonight. We want to carry that momentum over to Game 2. But you know, we’ve been in this situation plenty of times, and more so than not, have handled our business in Game 2. Obviously against the Clippers, we didn’t and had to really work. Even against Houston, we went up 2-0 and the narrative is, can you win on the road ? It’s just a game at a time. Having been through so many of these series, we understand what the drill is and they are going to make adjustments and probably play really aggressive and assertive in the first half. Game 2, we have to be ready for that punch and keep playing hard.”

Game 2 of the series is Thursday night at 6:00 p.m.

GAME NOTES:

The Warriors won their 12 consecutive Game 1. Dating back to the 2015 postseason, Golden State is now 18-1 in Game 1.

This is the third time in the past four years that the Warriors and Trail Blazers have met in the playoffs. Golden State now has an 9-1 record during that period.

This is Golden State’s fifth consecutive appearance in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors are just the second team to appear in five straight Western Conference Finals, going the Los Angeles Lakers (1982-1989). Three Eastern Conference teams have reached five or more Conference Finals (Boston, Chicago and Detroit).

Portland is making their first appearance in the Western Conference Finals since 2000. They’ve reached the Conference Finals seven times in franchise history, advancing to the NBA Finals on three occasions.

About Daniel Gluskoter

Daniel Gluskoter is the Martinez Tribune's national music and sports editor and a Bay Area photojournalist who's work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Time Magazine and Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2008 Presidential campaign as a correspondent for United Press International and has travelled worldwide covering events ranging from numerous Super Bowls and Olympics to Live Aid and the Grammys.

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