Blazers need more than just Lillard, McCollum vs Warriors
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum made brilliant playoff debuts, and it still wasn’t enough for Portland in Game 1 against Golden State.
The Trail Blazers know that if they are going to get past Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the mighty Warriors, they’re all going to have to do more.
Portland’s star backcourt combined for 75 points in a 121-109 loss Sunday, and the Blazers now are trying to find better ways to get others involved.
“I think to beat the Warriors, we’re going to have to maybe make that extra pass more often and be able to depend on guys more often to allow them to have that type of success so we can actually beat them,” Lillard said. “We have a huge game, and I think that gives us an opportunity to stay in the game. But to get over that hump and beat them, we’ve got to make those plays and give guys more opportunities so we can have them as well on the offensive end.”
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night at Oracle Arena.
McCollum scored a playoff career-high 41 points and Lillard added 34 in another impressive performance in his hometown.
Yet star-studded Golden State kept bringing in reinforcements to back Durant’s 32-point outing and 29 points from Curry. Draymond Green was perhaps most menacing on both ends to the Blazers, who missed injured 7-foot center Jusuf Nurkic. Coach Terry Stotts wasn’t sure whether Nurkic would return for Game 2, with each team taking Monday off from formal practice. Nurkic missed the final seven games of the regular season with a nondisplaced fracture in his right leg.
Without him, the Warriors had their way in the paint.
Green finished with quite the line: 19 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, five blocked shots and three steals in a game featuring 22 lead changes — 15 of those in the third quarter.
When Curry and Durant sit at the start of the second and fourth quarters, Green realizes he and the second unit must establish a defensive energy. They did just that in the fourth quarter, and it sparked a 15-2 run on the offensive end.
Exactly what Warriors coach Steve Kerr had in mind.
“He said the defensive intensity of this lineup could change the game for us,” Green said. “So we went to it earlier in the year when KD was still healthy and it started working for us. Getting back to it at this point in the season, we knew the offense was there. We had 88 points at the end of the third quarter, but the problem was they had 88 points. So we knew we had to come out and get stops if we were ever going to pull away in that game.
“That group did it, and then we were able to knock down some shots, but it started with our defense.”
Lillard and McCollum combined to go 28 for 54, the rest of the team just 12 of 39 — Maurice Harkless 5 for 13 and Allen Crabbe 1 of 5.
Green, David West and JaVale McGee made things challenging most of the afternoon for the Blazers.
There’s plenty of trash talk being thrown around, too, especially from Green. But when Green missed a dunk, McCollum let him have it.
“He told me I need to do more calf raises,” Green quipped.
For Lillard, it’s all in good fun, with some added motivation.
“It’s just going to make me raise the level of my game because I take it as a challenge,” he said.
Stotts will be satisfied with whatever gets his players going. All of them — not just Lillard and McCollum again.
“Hopefully they don’t get 75 points between them in Game 2, but they might,” Kerr said, “that’s how good they are.”