Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors are headed to Portland to take on Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers in an effort to take a devastating 3-0 lead in the series without star players Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins. The Trail Blazers are 2.5 point favorites on their home court, which I think is relatively surprising. We saw how both game one and two played out and I generally expect a lot of the same moving forward in this series because neither team has significant bench depth.
Golden State Loaded
When it comes to the Warriors, we really know exactly what they are going to do besides a few minor adjustments that they have made. In game 2, we saw a lot of time from Kevon Looney, which is what I think will likely be the case for this series, but they could scale him back a little. Other than that, we could see the Warriors take a minute or two off of the starters to rest, but I think they want this series over with as soon as possible without two starters. Steve Kerr recently stated that neither Cousins or Durant were particularly close to returning to the team and they have been ruled out for the road trip. The only way I expect either player to return, at least in full force would be an elimination game. That being said, I do not expect the Warriors to face an elimination game and if they did, it would almost certainly be in Game 7, which would be about a week away from today.
Portland Needs to Find a Way
For the Trail Blazers, we have to start to look into what adjustments they have in the tank and how those could change the series. In game two, we saw a few different things and I expect to see them try to repeat them as much as possible. Seth Curry and Rodney Hood need to be on the court a significant amount of time. Both guys are not great defenders, but they are both capable of scoring 20 points on a given night if they are given 25-30 minutes, which is something you can rarely say about either Aminu or Harkless.
Both Curry and Hood are bigger offensive threats and require a bit more help from the defense than the other two. The biggest worry I have about those two is that I think their last game is on the higher side of expectations. In 50 minutes, they scored 28 points on 6-12 from 3 and 4-4 from the line. I think they could do that again in this series, but I wouldn’t expect them to make that their average in the series. Even with that contribution off the bench, the Blazers lost the game in the final few minutes.
Both CJ and Dame need to be better. CJ has the better matchup most of the game. In the second game of the series, McCollum saw 26 possessions guarded by Steph and 24 guarded by Klay. In comparison, Lillard was defended by Klay 44 possessions, Iggy 19, McKinnie 12 and Steph just 6. Now, I think that Steph is a better defender than people give him credit for, but he is not near either Klay or Iggy. This means that I want CJ to take advantage of this matchup advantage and have a big game in game 3. It is worth noting that the Warriors seemed to hide Steph more in game 2 if they could, but that allowed Seth, who saw his brother on 36 possessions, to have a big night.
The other change is that the Blazers want to see Zach Collins play 25+ minutes and not foul 5 times in 8 minutes, forcing Meyers Leonard into the game. I think we see Collins play the most minutes of any 5 (Not including Draymond) in this game if he avoids foul trouble.
Warriors Again Too Much
I think that the Blazers are a team that has excelled in making adjustments, but I think that the line is too much here. This should be a pick’em in Portland and I will take the Warriors +2.5 here.