Sunday, 17 December, 2017

Tactical Quandaries: Warriors Vs. Blazers Series Preview

59 points? Damian Lillard thinks he can top it. No, Warriors fans shouldn't get worked up over Damian Lillard's 'Blazers in 6' prediction
Spencer Simpson | 17 April, 2017, 00:46

The Blazers are heavy underdogs against the Warriors, who not only were the best team in the National Basketball Association during the regular season but also welcomed back injured All-Star Kevin Durant a week before the playoffs. Durant has returned to the lineup in the past week though, making the starting five even more lethal and offering head coach Steve Kerr even more flexibility on defense. You try your best to keep your eye on guys and to keep them fresh, but honestly Steph was pretty fresh going into last season's postseason.

Mar 4, 2017; Portland, OR, USA;Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu (8) reacts after hitting a three point shot during the second half of the game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Moda Center.

Nurkic, traded to Portland on February 12 from the Denver Nuggets, was averaging 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 20 games with the Blazers.

The clubs haven't met since January 29, which means the Warriors could very well be seeing a different-looking opponent.

Jusuf Nurkic: The Bosnian Beast has given the Blazers a complete 180 since he was traded to Portland.

The Clippers won't make the same mistake again, with most expecting an aggressive rebuttal when Game 2 tips off. It will be a battle of the frontcourts with Curry and Thompson coming up against Portland stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Combine that with Portland taking a step back and this series could get messy quickly.

But Lillard sparked a fire by saying he thinks his team can win in six games. He was dealing with foot issues that caused him to spend the past several games in a boot on the bench but is apparently fine for this series. "At the end of the day, the ball is what we have to stop".

Doc Rivers wasn't thrilled after the Clippers lost Game 1 to the Jazz at the buzzer in Los Angeles Saturday night, and one reporter's postgame question only continued the coach's frustration. He averaged 15.2 points and 10.4 rebounds in 20 games before suffering a non-displaced fracture in his right leg on March 30. Both teams shot well from beyond the arc, but only one defended the shot well. Odds are that they already had a good sense of how to attack a Nurkic-less Portland. Let's not kid ourselves: the Warriors shouldn't have much trouble with the Blazers.

Portland clinched the eighth and final playoff spot in the West on Sunday, when the Denver Nuggets fell to Oklahoma City.

Golden State swept Portland, 4-0, during the regular season and one of those losses was a 45-point thumper on December 17 at Oracle Arena.

In recent history, the Warriors have had the most success against Houston.

Terry Stotts said before the game he met with McCollum and Lillard on Monday morning and convinced them to take a night off. It's not an understatement to say that the result of the Blazers vs. Warriors playoff series may hinge on whether or not the Nurkic injury has healed.

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