The two bench pieces feasted as the Golden State Warriors gave the Portland Trail Blazers a 29-piece. On a night where the stars just didn’t have it, the McBrothers led the team to a resounding 110-81 victory in Game 2.
Defense ruled the day and McGee played a huge role. Defensive Player of the Year hopeful Draymond Green knows all about defensive effort, and he was impressed with the play of the back-up big man:
“He was amazing, all over the court for us tonight.”
The Warriors not only suffocated the Blazers offense, they absolutely broke their spirit. The Blazers managed just 12 points in a decisive third quarter that saw them lose touch with the Warriors, lose hope, and lose the will to play any type of basketball. The 12-point output was tied for the lowest in a quarter by a Warriors playoff opponent in the Shot Cock Era.
After 75 combined points in Game 1, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard were held to just 23 combined points on 9-of-34 shooting. As a team the Blazers shot just 33 percent from the field and an atrocious 20 percent from deep.
That defense begins and ends with Green who put together another incredible performance totaling six points, 12 boards, 10 assists and another three blocks. But it was also the perimeter defense of Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry and McCaw that was able to keep Portland’s backcourt under wraps.
Green said that it was about starting the game off tighter on the Blazer’s duo:
“They felt us from the beginning. … We did it from the jump tonight and it had an effect on them. And I think they were a little tired from Game 1 because they both exhausted a lot of energy. You can’t expect them to hold them to 23 points every night, but you can’t give up 75 either.”
Just like in the regular season the rookie McCaw started in place of Kevin Durant, who the Warriors elected to sit out due to a calf sprain. Maybe it was those reps in the regular season that made him comfortable, but McCaw played perhaps his best basketball of the season.
Aside from one play where he passed up and open three, McCaw looked nothing like the regular season where he was a mostly passive perimeter player. He would finish with just nine points, but the confidence he showed was on another level.
He attacked his man on closeouts when he saw an advantage and moved the ball quickly when he didn’t. He was always doing something, not just standing.
Head coach Steve Kerr came away impressed with the rookie’s poise and fearlessness:
“The main thing I liked was the fact that he was just unafraid. He’s a rookie and he barely played in Game 1 and when KD comes back he’s probably not going to play a whole lot, but the fact that he stayed prepared… I thought his defense was excellent. We asked him to (guard) Lillard and McCollum and he did a really nice job.”
Luckily they got enough out of their center rotation to pick up the pieces, as McGee, Zaza Pachulia and David West combined to shoot 15-of-20 for 33 points. McGee may have played the fewest minutes (13) of the trio but his impact was the highest as he scored 15 points on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting, five rebounds and four blocks.
Green said it’s a luxury to have someone like McGee offensively:
“With him being that lob threat at the rim for us, it’s kind of like a bail out. You get in trouble and you just throw it to the rim and he goes and gets it. But it was more than that, it was offensive rebounds, it was a great post move, it was the blocks, it was the defense in the pick-and-roll.”
He actually tied the Warriors’ postseason record for most made field goals without a miss. And it felt like those numbers were double that.
Without Jusuf Nurkic, Kerr said that the Warriors are mix-and-matching all their centers against Portland’s small lineup:
“JaVale has given us great minutes in that role, playing with that athleticism and that energy. He’s still able to cover their smaller players and then be a force around the rim offensively.”
His rim-running ability as well as his controlled energy gave the Warriors everything they needed. And it started from the second he entered the game, with him and Pachulia scoring 12 first quarter points and matching the production of Lillard and McCollum. The two best and almost only scoring options of the Blazers were matched point-for-point by the Warriors last two options.
While the supporting cast stole the show, Thompson continued to struggle. It’s not just the shooting, 6-of-17, although that’s certainly part of it. It’s also the type of shots he’s taking, which are over tight defenders or off-balance prayers, just a bunch of forced shots — even for a scorer of his caliber.
He’s also committing some incomprehensibly bad turnovers, adding another six Wednesday. But he redeemed almost all of that with his third quarter block on Lillard. And he punctuated the defensive play by cashing in on an open three-ball at the other end.
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) April 20, 2017
Curry joined Thompson with another off night, shooting just 6-of-18 and committing four turnovers of his own. With Thompson and Curry not being themselves and Durant being forced to miss the game, it was a wonder that this game turned into a laugher.
But it was thanks to the depth this team has with McGee — a training camp invitee to begin the year — and McCaw — a second-round pick the Warriors bought — that has the Warriors looking almost unbeatable even if Durant has to miss more time.
The series now shifts to Portland for Game 3 Saturday, and both teams get a chance to give their injured players more time. They both get another two full days of rest between Game 2 and 3, although one of those days will be a travel day.
Injuries are starting to mount for both teams as Durant, Matt Barnes, Shaun Livingston and Kevon Looney were out for the Warriors, and Jusuf Nurkic for the Blazers. But McCollum and Allen Crabbe were also questionable for Portland entering the game. … Thompson played in his 66 career playoff game for the Warriors in six-year career. He’s now second on the franchise’s all-time list for playoff games played passing Rick Barry. … Damian Jones got his first taste of the NBA playoffs as he got six minutes of mop-up duty at the end of the game. All 11 healthy Warriors saw the court.