Warriors open conference finals with big win
OAKLAND — Stephen Curry had all kinds of room for a change and capitalized, finding his shooting touch in a hurry to get Golden State on a roll. Portland’s defenders were too far back in the paint or a step behind all night.
“Practice shots,” Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said of Curry’s wide-open chances.
So far, the Warriors are showing they can keep winning until Kevin Durant gets healthy.
Making it look easy again, Curry knocked down nine 3-pointers on his way to 36 points, leading the two-time defending champions past the Trail Blazers 116-94 on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
“I know what I’m capable of on the floor. The situation calls for me to be a little bit more aggressive and hopefully that’ll continue,” said Curry, who came in shooting 37.1% on 3s this postseason. “Obviously it’s nice to see the ball go in. I didn’t shoot the ball well for 4½ games the last series and got off to a good start tonight. I want to maintain that. Every game is different, you’ve got to re-establish yourself. That’s my perspective no matter how I play.”
Curry shot 12 for 23 in his fourth 30-point performance this postseason, finding far more open looks than he had in the last round against Houston. The two-time NBA MVP outplayed the Portland duo of Lillard and CJ McCollum, who combined to go 11 for 31 against a strong Golden State defense.
“It’s good to see Steph have a game like that at a time that obviously we need him most,” Draymond Green said.
Klay Thompson had 26 points, including a late one-handed slam. Green established the energy on both ends early for the well-rested Warriors, finishing with 12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals.
Lillard scored 19 points back home in Oakland, just miles away from where he grew up. He appreciated all the support but wants to stick to basketball.
“That’s part of what makes it special, I’m from here,” Lillard said. “I could walk home from here if I wanted to, that tells you how close it is.”
McCollum had 17 and missed five of his six 3s as the cold-shooting Blazers went just 7 for 28 from long range.
Game 2 is Thursday night, and the Warriors are unlikely to have Durant back from a strained right calf. An update on Durant’s status is expected that day once the two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP is re-examined.
“I think we played a terrible game and we still had a chance going into the fourth quarter,” McCollum said, “so we need to tighten some things up and look forward to the game on Thursday.”
Curry came off screens with authority and matched his postseason career high for 3s, also accomplished in Game 1 of last year’s finals against Cleveland. He found his groove far earlier than in the Game 6 clincher at Houston on Friday night, when he scored all 33 of his points in the second half.
Little brother Seth struggled with three points for Portland, which shot 36.1% overall.
“It’s not one-and-done. We’ve got a series, it’s one loss,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “We’ve got to play better, particularly at the offensive end, but we’ve got to be better at both ends.”