The NBA Conference Finals get underway on Tuesday night. The Portland Trail Blazers and the Golden State Warriors will meet in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. I expect this to be a good game as both teams try to get a feel for each other early in the series. This game is going to start at around 9:00 PM Eastern time on ESPN.
The Trail Blazers finished the season in third place of the Western Conference with a record of 53-29. Portland met up with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round and were able to knock them off in five games. The Trail Blazers then played the Denver Nuggets where they won in a tough seven-game series. Portland will look to pull off the road upset in Game 1 to earn a series lead.
Golden State finished in the top spot of the Western Conference with a 57-25 record this season. The Warriors were able to knock off the Los Angeles Clippers and the Houston Rockets in six games. Golden State has been battling with some injuries, but still remain the favorites to win the NBA Championship. The Warriors will look to take one step closer with a home win on Tuesday night.
Game 1 will be a big matchup as the Warriors will continue to be without Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins. Golden State will look for their Guards to out battle the Trail Blazers Guards. This should help lead to a tight matchup in Game 1. Portland will look to use this to their advantage as they pull off a huge upset.
Regular Season Matchups
The Warriors hosted the first game of the regular season series on November 23. Damian Lillard had 23 points, while Jusuf Nurkic had 22 points, but it was not enough for the Trail Blazers. Kevin Durant dropped 32 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. Klay Thompson had another 31 points to help give Golden State a 125-97 win at home.
These two teams met up again on December 27 in Golden State. Steph Curry added 29 points from the Point Guard spot. Kevin Durant added another 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. Jusuf Nurkic dropped 27 points and 12 rebounds. C.J. McCollum added 24 points for the Trail Blazers as Portland finished with a 110-109 win in overtime.
The Trail Blazers hosted the third game of the season series on December 29. Damian Lillard put up a huge night, dropping 40 points to try and help Portland win, but it was not enough. Klay Thompson put up 32 points, while Kevin Durant and Steph Curry each had 25 points. The Warriors were able to finish with a 115-105 win on the road.
Portland hosted the final game of the regular season series on February 13. Kevin Durant and Steph Curry each put up 32 point performances, but no other player on Golden State had double-digit points. Damian Lillard had 29 points and Jake Layman had 17 points off the bench. The Trail Blazers bench combined for 52 points to help give Portland a 129-107 win at home to tie up the series 2-2.
Three Point Shooting
The Trail Blazers have been doing well when it comes to shooting the three ball. Portland was able to make around 35.9 percent of their shots from deep in the regular season. The Trail Blazers allowed their opponents to make 35.9 percent of their shots from deep as well in the regular season. Portland has made around 35.9 percent of their three-point shots in the playoffs, which is second for remaining teams.
Golden State was able to make around 38.5 percent of their three points shots in the regular season, while holding opposing teams to a three-point percentage of 34.7 percent. The Warriors have been the best team at shooting the three ball in the playoffs, making around 37.2 percent of their shots from behind the arc.
Portland has been doing well at shooting the three ball, but they are not as strong as the Warriors. Golden State’s three-point defense has been doing well and they will look to shut down the Trail Blazers from behind the line. Both guard pairs will look to earn the edge at shooting the three-point ball, which should be something to watch throughout this series.
Damian Lillard has put up a strong performance from the Point Guard spot throughout these playoffs. Lillard has averaged around 28.5 points and 6 assists per game. C.J. McCollum is averaging around 25.5 points and 6 rebounds per game from the other Guard spot. Enes Kanter has stepped up averaging 13 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in this playoff run.
Steph Curry is averaging around 24.5 points per game at the Point Guard position in the playoffs. Klay Thompson has averaged around 18.5 points per game in the playoffs. Draymond Green is averaging 12.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8 assists per game. Andre Iguodala has averaged 12 points per game.
These two teams have a strong Guard pairing that they will look to help lead them to a victory. I expect both pairs of Guards will play a big role throughout this series as they go up against each other. Enes Kanter will look to put up a strong showing as he goes up against the Warriors who do not have a true Center in the starting lineup with DeMarcus Cousins out.
These two teams have been doing well enough to make it to the Western Conference Finals. Both teams will look to earn a big win in Game 1 to earn a lead. I expect both teams to come out a bit slower to feel each other out to set up the series. The Trail Blazers will need McCollum and Lillard to put up big performances if they want to win on the road.
BetOnline has Golden State listed as a -7.5 against the spread. The Warriors have earned the right to be favorites in this series, but I believe that with the injuries that they have suffered, this spread is too big. I believe that the Trail Blazers can keep up with Golden State in Game 1, which makes them have a lot of value as underdogs this big.