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Basketball Daily Dose

Stephen Curry, Warriors take a 2-0 lead

by Raphielle Johnson

After Tuesday’s Game 1, the expectation heading into Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals was that Portland would be much more competitive. That turned out to be the case, with the Trail Blazers taking better care of the basketball and receiving solid contributions from bit players such as Seth Curry and Meyers Leonard. But it still wasn’t enough to hold off Golden State, which finished the game on a 14-3 run to take a 2-0 series lead. Below is a look at Game 2, followed by injury updates on two Warriors starters and Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. 

Warriors 114, Trail Blazers 111 

Portland had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but Andre Iguodala’s strip of Damian Lillard preserved the lead for the reigning champions. Golden State won despite trailing by 15 at the half (and by as much as 17 during the third quarter) and being outscored by a 54-27 margin from beyond the arc. The Trail Blazers changed up their pick and roll coverages, blitzing Stephen Curry in an attempt to get the ball out of his hands rather than having the player defending the screener drop back. Curry did turn the ball over six times on the night, but he also accounted for 37 points (11-of-22 FGs, 11-of-11 FTs), eight rebounds, eight assists and four 3-pointers in 39 minutes played. Four of Curry’s assists were on Draymond Green baskets, with the versatile forward also having a good night at the office. 

Green shot 8-of-12 from the field, scoring 16 points with ten rebounds, seven assists (four to Kevon Looney) and five blocked shots. He did turn the ball over five times, but more often than not Green found a way to make Portland pay either by scoring as the roll man or finding an open teammate. Klay Thompson was the third Warriors starter to score in double figures, as he finished with 24 points (8-of-22 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), three rebounds, two assists and four 3-pointers. Iguodala scored just four points but did a little bit of everything, as he tallied five rebounds, four assists, one steal and one blocked shot in his 31 minutes on the floor. 

Starting center Andrew Bogut played just four minutes Thursday, with the bench trio of Looney, Jordan Bell and Jonas Jerebko all playing at least 14 minutes. Looney was the most productive of the three, establishing a playoff career-high with 14 points (6-of-6 FGs, 2-of-3 FTs) while also recording seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block in 29 minutes. Bell, who played 11 minutes in each of Golden State’s two games prior to Thursday, chipped in with 11 points (4-of-7 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), three rebounds, two steals, one assist and one block in 14 minutes. And Jerebko didn’t score in his 15 minutes on the court, but he did account for seven rebounds, two assists and one block. Damian Jones, who saw his first action since early December in Game 1, played two minutes in the third quarter Thursday night. 

Among the perimeter reserves Shaun Livingston (three points, three rebounds and three assists) led the way with 15 minutes played, followed by Quinn Cook (two points and two rebounds in ten minutes) and Alfonzo McKinnie (three points in nine minutes). 

Portland had a chance to even the series due in large part to its improved offense, as the Trail Blazers committed 13 turnovers after racking up 21 in Game 1. Damian Lillard didn’t have his best night shooting the basketball, making just six of his 16 field goal attempts, finishing the night with 23 points, ten assists, five rebounds, one steal and five 3-pointers in a team-high 43 minutes. After turning the ball over seven times on Tuesday he was better in that regard, accounting for two turnovers despite Golden State frequently sending double-teams his way in order to force Lillard to move the ball to a less threatening scoring option. 

CJ McCollum started the game hot, scoring 15 points in the first quarter, but he would finish with 23 (9-of-23 FGs) to go along with five assists, three rebounds, one steal and three 3-pointers. In the front court, after playing 30 minutes in Game 1 both Moe Harkless and Enes Kanter saw their minutes cut Thursday night. Harkless was down to 23 minutes and he was productive during his time on the court, scoring 12 points with four rebounds, two assists, one steal and two 3-pointers. Kanter’s minutes were cut even more as he played 19 minutes. He wasn’t particularly effective either, finishing with four points, five rebounds, one steal and one blocked shot. 

Kanter isn’t the best defender, and this was due to open up some minutes for Zach Collins and Meyers Leonard. But with Collins being limited to just eight minutes due to foul trouble, Leonard was of even greater importance to the Portland rotation. He played 17 minutes off the bench, contributing seven points, six rebounds, two assists and one three-pointer in 17 minutes. That is the most that Leonard has played in a game this postseason, and after appearing in all five first-round games he was a DNP-CD in four of Portland’s second round games. 

Also giving Portland a lift off the bench were Seth Curry, who shot 4-of-7 from three and finished with 16 points, four steals, two assists and one rebounds, and Rodney Hood. Hood shot 4-of-8 from the field, finishing with 12 points, two rebounds and one assist. Evan Turner played 22 minutes, accounting for six points and five rebounds. Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday in Portland, and with the Blazers looking to avoid an 0-3 hole Stotts may have to lean a bit more on those reserves front court players. Al-Farouq Aminu was solid, scoring nine points with six rebounds, one assist and one three-pointer in 20 minutes, But the lack of offense could keep him around that number minutes-wise, especially if Collins is able to avoid foul trouble and stay on the floor. 

Durant, Cousins still not ready to return 

During the first quarter the Warriors issued a status update on Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, with neither being ready to make their return to the lineup. Durant, who’s been sidelined by a strained right calf, has made strides in his rehab but is not ready to begin on-court work. As for Cousins, who suffered a torn left quadriceps during Game 2 of the Houston series, has done some on-court work but has not been able to take part in “live” drills. Both players will be re-evaluated in a week, and based upon the release it doesn’t appear likely that either will be able to have much of an impact on this series. In Durant’s case, Steve Kerr said after Game 2 that the injury is “a little more serious” than they believed it to be.  

Friday’s Game: Raptors @ Bucks, 8:30 PM (TNT) 

There were no major names for either team on Thursday’s final injury report, with Patrick McCaw listed as out due to personal reasons. Donte DiVincenzo and Pau Gasol remain out for Milwaukee, with Toronto’s OG Anunoby (appendectomy) and Jordan Loyd (coaches decision) also listed as out. 

Raphielle Johnson
Raphielle has been writing about college sports for more than a decade for multiple outlets, including NBC Sports. Focuses have included game recaps, columns, features and recruiting stories. A native of the Northeast, he now calls Pac-12 country home. Raphielle can be followed on Twitter @raphiellej.