The Warriors swept the regular season series against Portland 4-0, and it could be the same story in their first-round matchup. They are so confident that they even double-booked Oracle Arena Game 5 of the playoffs.
Chance the Rapper and Game 5 are both scheduled on April 26th in Oracle Arena – maybe the NBA expects the series to end early ????. pic.twitter.com/nkqymzGqrK
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) April 14, 2017
It seems like the NBA is expecting a quick series as well, since they gave the Warriors two days of rest between each of the first three games extending the series as much as they could. So here are four reasons that Golden State’s opening round could indeed could be a quick four-game series.
1. Portland’s duo of none shooters
One thing you absolutely cannot have if you want any chance at beating the Warriors is a perimeter player who is an absolute zero on offense.
Oh, and the Blazers have two: Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu. Both can be left alone on the perimeter without much fear, and that allows Draymond Green, or Kevin Durant or Andre Iguodala or whoever is guarding them to do what they do best: slide into help, deflect almost every pass and suffocate driving lanes.
In four games against Golden State this season, Harkless shot 5-of-15 from deep, while Aminu shot 3-of-14 in the three games he played. That’s not going to cut it if you are the third option on offense and want the Warriors to close out on you.
Portland possesses a lot of perimeter fire power from Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but when you sag off on the players around them, you’re in help for their drives, and it allows whoever is matched up on Lillard and McCollum to push up and defend them closer on the 3-point line.
2. Lack of any rim protection without Jusuf Nurkic
The injury to Nurkic has been well documented and will definitely be a factor as the Bosnian Beast averaged 15.2 points, 10.4 boards, 3.2 assists and 1.9 blocks in 20 games for the Blazers.
Portland will definitely miss Nurkic on offense, but defensively is where his absence hurts most. Without him the Blazers have no one in the current lineup who averages even one block a game. Harkless comes the closest at .91, but he inspires zero fear for any Warriors player driving to the rim.
And when the Warriors don’t fear you at the rim, they feast there. For a team known for their 3-pointers, Golden State is actually seventh in the league in points in the paint per game and averaged 47 points in the paint per game against the Blazers this season.
3. Not being able to guard the three
When you can’t intimidate the Warriors at the rim, you have to guard the 3-point line well. And Portland struggles there as well.
Their opponents shot the fourth-highest 3-point percentage in the NBA this season at 37 percent. And in four matchups this year, the Warriors shot just under 39 percent against the Blazers.
Obviously opponent 3-point percentage can be dependent on luck as well as defense, but any inclination of being bad at guarding the three against these Warriors is not ideal.
4. The Blazers foul parade
If you listen to Steve Kerr at all, one of the main things he looks for in every box score is the free throw disparity between teams.
Unfortunately for him, the Warriors are usually on the negative side of that equation as they are just middle of the road in free throws attempted per game.
But it should be a happy series for Kerr as Portland is one of the foulsiest teams in the Association. Only four teams foul more in the league, and it translates to free throws. Only Memphis and Phoenix send their opponents to the line more.
With Durant so adept at drawing fouls it could be a never-ending march to the free throw line for the Warriors.
In the teams’ most recent matchup, the Warriors went to the line 39 times compared to the Blazers 12.
That’s just giving the Dubs free points, as every one of their rotation players shoot 70 percent or higher from the free throw line, with the lone exception of JaVale McGee.
All of these could and should make it a quick series for the Warriors, at least their fans and Chance the Rapper definitely hope so.