Not Kevin Durant’s continued absence nor a 15-point halftime deficit could stop the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, as the champs rallied from as far back as 17 down to beat the Blazers 114-111 to take a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference finals.
This is a gut-wrenching loss for the Blazers, who did just about everything right — including hitting 18 threes on 46-percent shooting from the arc. It was right there for them, and they just couldn’t close it out. As Golden State went on one of its patented third-quarter runs, it was the usual suspects — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — taking control. All three were terrific for the Warriors.
Durant will CJ McCollum added 22 points and five assists of his own. Steph’s brother, Seth, added 16 points off the bench for Portland.of the series as he won’t travel with the team to Portland for Games 3 and 4, but so far, the Warriors have handled their business without him. On the other side of the floor, Dame Lillard paced Portland with 23 points and 10 assists, while
Here are five takeaways from Golden State’s Game 2 victory:
1. What a series swing
A lot of things happened in this game that are worth examining, but at the end of the day, the Blazers had a 15-point halftime lead and led by as many as 17 in the second half, and they couldn’t get it done. With no Kevin Durant and a lead like that, you have to find a way to steal that game. Portland played valiantly. Damian Lillard and Seth Curry made huge shots in the fourth quarter. But none of it matters now.
“We stole that game,” Steve Kerr said afterward. “I thought [Portland] outplayed us for the majority of the night.”
Historically speaking, when a team goes down 0-2 in a best-of-seven series, they go on to lose the series over 93 percent of the time. This was a must-win for the Blazers, and had they gotten it done, they’d be going back to Portland with the series tied 1-1, having stolen home-court advantage, with Durant out for Games 3 and 4 at least. They would’ve been in position to legitimately take control of this series. What a swing on a few possessions at the end of an incredible game.
2. All hail Draymond Green
Green went for 16 points, 10 rebounds, seven boards and five blocks — four of which came in the first quarter alone. Somehow, that line doesn’t do justice to how impactful Green was. He was brilliant as a short roller when Steph Curry was trapped, he was all over defensively, and he finished the biggest bucket of the game on a patiently executed pick and roll to put the Warriors up three in the closing seconds.
You knew it was going to be a big night for Draymond after the first offensive set of the game for the Warriors, who knew the Blazers would come out focused on Curry hard and used that to their advantage to slip Green to the bucket while everyone was watching the man who stuck nine 3-pointers on the Blazers in Game 1:
3. Speaking of Steph Curry
If you don’t think Curry heard all the talk that the Warriors were in trouble when Kevin Durant went down, you’re nuts. He heard it loud and clear, and in the three games the Warriors have been entirely without Durant, he has gone for 106 points — 37 of which came in the Game 2 win over Portland.
With the ball back in Curry’s hands for the majority of the game, we are getting a sharp reminder of the player some people considered to be the best in the world before Durant arrived. He is obviously still very capable of carrying a championship team, if you were ever foolish enough to think otherwise. He added eight boards and eights assists in Game 2. A quick gander at what he’s doing to the Blazers so far:
4. Some love for Seth Curry
Little brother was lights out in Game 2, converting on 4 of 7 shots from 3-point range while stealing the ball four times — four times! — from big brother. Seth hit gigantic shots in the most pressure-packed situations, which he has almost no experience navigating in his young, journeyman career. You want a big-time shot? Portland was down two here with a minute to play:
Give the man some respect. He’s earned everything he’s gotten in this league. We’re talking about a guy who wasn’t even drafted and got waived by five different teams getting crunch-time minutes in the conference finals, and coming through. Seth was a game-high — for both teams — plus-13 in his 29 minutes on Thursday.
5. Not quite enough Lillard
Lillard was better than he was in Game 1, posting 23 points, 10 assists and five boards while really putting his foot down early in the fourth quarter with the first refuse-to-lose-type stint we’ve seen from him this series. But it was too little too late, as it happens.
Lillard was all but absent in the first half. He’s getting the Steph Curry treatment on defense, doubles and traps out to 30 feet, constant pressure, and he’s exhausted. And not playing his best. And Portland obviously needs him at his best to have a chance to beat a better team in the Warriors. We’ll see if the venue shift to Portland can re-energize Dame in an absolute do-or-die Game 3.
Recap of Live Game 2 Updates
How to watch Trail Blazers vs. Warriors Game 3
- Date: Saturday, May 18
- Time: 9 p.m. ET
- Location: Moda Center — Portland, Oregon
- TV channel: ESPN
- Live stats: GameTracker
- Online streaming: WatchESPN
- Odds: TBD