Move over, Splash Brothers. There’s a new Golden State Warriors’ tandem in town: Draymond Green obliterating the Portland Trail Blazers’ offense with his eviscerating defense and Stephen Curry firing missiles from any direction every time he touches the ball.
Prior to Game 3 on the Blazers’ home turf of Moda Center in Portland, Warriors Wire posited the question: After falling into a 0-2 hole, can Blazers’ coach Terry Stotts devise a plan to stop either Green’s defense or Curry’s offense for a chance to climb back into the series? The Blazers have been overwhelmed by both this series, so slowing either one or the other seemed like the most viable, logical plan heading into tonight’s Game 3.
The 110-99 drubbing by the reigning champion Warriors before the Blazers’ home crowd answers the question: a resounding no. The Portland Trail Blazers possess neither the plan nor the potential to stymie even a little a Golden State Warriors’ team that has grown increasingly reliant on its bench; all players in the second unit put points up except Andrew Bogut.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr has been scraping the end of the bench because of the absences of two key players: Kevin Durant (calf strain) and DeMarcus Cousins (quadriceps tear). Some, including former NBA player turned TNT analyst Charles Barkley, have declared a Warriors’ championship three-peat impossible without Durant in the lineup.
Yet, look at what this team has done without its back-to-back NBA Finals MVP: dominate, with every player making contributions on both ends of the floor. The Blazers have failed to take advantage of the playoffs’ scoring leader, Durant, being in his living room.
Golden State now has mopped the floor with the Blazers’ tears in two different cities. If everything stays status quo, a Game 4 victory for the series sweep and a ticket to the NBA Finals should be inevitable.
There is no reason to rush back either Durant or Cousins — at least, not for now. But if the Warriors face the Milwaukee Bucks in the championship round — a team that made lunch meat of the Toronto Raptors on their way to a 2-0 series lead — Durant’s and Cousin’s services will be needed. The Bucks right now are doing to the Raptors what the Warriors have been doing to the Blazers over three games: crushing them, mercilessly.
More specifically, the Green-Curry combo is destroying Portland’s defense, destabilizing its offense and wiping out hope for anything other than an end to the suffering. As has been the case all series, Curry was the game-high scorer with 36 points — in Games 1 and 2, he scored 36 points and 37 points, respectively. Curry, a near one-man show these days, seems to have the team’s offense under control.
But without Golden State’s death choke of a defense, Curry’s impressive scoring wouldn’t have happened and/or the Blazers may have been able to climb back into the game. Chief defender Draymond Green — Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 and 2017 — recorded a triple-double decorated with flowery extras. To go with his 20 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, Green recorded four steals and one block, and his field goal shooting was 50 percent.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr will have to address the worker shortage soon enough. But, for now, the Warriors will keep their minds on closing out the Portland series after learning the hard way the perils of looking ahead to the next opponent.
Golden State has a chance to toss a wet blanket over the Blazers in Game 4. Tipoff from Moda Center is Monday, May 20, at 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.