Western Conference Finals: Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Series odds: -550 Warriors +375 Trail Blazers
Fanduel NBA Playoffs Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trail Blazers
The Golden State Warriors will face the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors have already overcome their biggest challengers in the West after beating the Houston Rockets in 6 games. The Trail Blazers have a great backcourt in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum that will rival the backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, a matchup between the two best guard duos in the league. McCollum is an effortless scorer capable of getting to his spots and creating his own shot. Lillard has boundless range and is more than capable of taking over games and is a great crunch time scorer.
In the biggest game of their season, a Game 7 on the road against a quality Denver Nuggets team McCollum took over with 37 points. Evan Turner and McCollum carried the Trail Blazers in crunch time repeatedly exploiting matchups and coming up with big plays down the stretch. The Trail Blazers have showed a lot of grit and have a chance to get to the NBA Finals. The Warriors are more seasoned and know what it takes to win championships. With Kevin Durant sidelined with a strained calf, Curry and Thompson are able to get into a better rhythm offensively and take more shots. This was evidenced in the 4th quarter of Game 5 and during Game 6 of the Houston Rockets series.
Curry no longer had to defer and took over in crunch time of Game 6 ripping the hearts out of the Rockets on their home floor with a flurry of 3’s to cap a 33 point second half performance. Both Thompson and Curry took 20 shot attempts in Game 6. Kevin Durant is the biggest luxury in team sports. The Warriors can win without Durant, but with him they’re nearly unbeatable. Although, they do become more isolation heavy with Durant as he is an elite one on one scorer, sometimes making them easier to guard. Without Durant there tends to be more ball movement and Draymond Green’s playmaking abilities become all the more important.
Draftking NBA Playoffs Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trail Blazers
The Warriors lack depth on their bench and really can’t afford any more injuries. The Trail Blazers have found some quality play off their bench with players like Rodney Hood, Zach Collins, Seth Curry and Evan Turner. The Trail Blazers will need a true team effort to overcome the Warriors. With Damian Lillard having two subpar games during the Nuggets series in Games 2 and 7 where he had 14 and 13 points, the Trail Blazers still came away with wins in those games. This shows that the Trail Blazers can win even when Lillard is missing most of his shots. Lillard generally plays well against the Warriors averaging 28.3 points in 4 regular season games. The Trail Blazers went 2-2 against the Warriors during the regular season and have shown they can compete with them.
The Warriors could be getting both Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins back during the course of the series, so the Trail Blazers will need to take advantage of a depleted Warriors team in order to have a chance of winning the series. This is bound to be a high scoring series and both teams have high powered offenses. The Trail Blazers can rely on either McCollum or Lillard to be their leading scorers and pick it up if the other doesn’t have their shot falling. Through 12 postseason games both Lillard and McCollum have been the leading scorer 6 times each. Through the course of 7 games against the Nuggets, the Trail Blazers averaged 111.29 ppg and were outscored by 13 points, but still won the series. In 6 games against the Rockets, the Warriors averaged 111.67 ppg and outscored them by 11 points.
With both teams scoring at a similar clip this should be a competitive series. The defensive play of Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala will be key in countering the firepower of Lillard and McCollum. Enes Kanter will need to continue his great play on the glass to force the Warriors to play a bigger line up and get them out of their comfort zone. This will also be the first time in NBA history that two brothers will compete against each other in a Conference Finals series with both Seth and Stephen Curry set to play for their respective teams. The Eastern Conference Finals matchup between the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks also has two brothers on their teams in Marc Gasol on the Raptors and Pau Gasol on the Bucks. Unfortunately, Pau Gasol is out for the postseason after having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot. With many storylines to follow and the great point guard matchup between Curry and Lillard it should be an exciting series. Game 1 is set for Tuesday, May 14th at 9:00 PM ET from Oracle Arena.
Pick: Golden State Warriors in 6 games