Warriors ‘under no illusion’ that they’ll be able to stop Blazers’ Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum all the time
No Kevin Durant, no problem for the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. With Durant still sidelined due to a mild calf strain, the Warriors dominated the series opener 116-94 while completely shackling the Portland Trail Blazers and their explosive backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
Lillard finished the game shooting just 4 of 12 from the field in addition to seven turnovers. Klay Thompson routinely guarded him out past the three-point line and forced him into the paint, where a swarm of defenders seemed to be waiting at every turn.
McCollum–who had been the hero of Game 7 in Portland’s conference semifinal victory over the Denver Nuggets–never got it going either, shooting 7 of 19 from the field and just 1 0f 5 from beyond the arc.
The Blazers totally rely on Lillard and McCollum to provide the scoring for their starting unit, but the Warriors have the kind of length and versatility that has given both players trouble in the past.
Last time these two teams met in the playoffs (2017 first round), Lillard shot under 30 percent from three and McCollum shot 40 percent while averaging close to four turnovers per game in a four-game sweep for the Warriors.
Despite Golden State’s historical success against Portland’s dynamic duo, however, head coach Steve Kerr knows his team will not be able to hold both players down for the entire series:
Steve Kerr on defending @Dame_Lillard & @CJMcCollum
In Game 2: “They’re both fantastic players. We’re under no illusion we’re going to stop them. We’re well aware they’re going to heat up at times. We’ve got to continue to defend & follow our plan & see if we can build on Game 1”
— kerry eggers (@kerryeggers) May 15, 2019
Part of Lillard’s offensive struggles may also have stemmed from having to chase Stephen Curry around all night.
Curry was routinely sprung free on the pick-and-roll, converting 9 of 15 attempts from beyond the arc and pouring in 36 points.