As the team heads out on the road I’ll share my thoughts on the highs and lows of each quarter and their importance to the game, team and season going forward. Let’s discuss!
Road Review: Golden State Strikes Again
By sarahhecht Posted in: Blazers, Warriors
GOLDEN STATE 101, PORTLAND 93
Loved: Balanced attack
Eight Trail Blazers scored in the opening quarter of tonight’s loss to Golden State while the Warriors only had three. Opening the game at a good clip was key for Portland and gave them the ability to score from multiple angles to keep the Warriors on their toes. They had to adjust to defending all areas of the floor and not just LaMarcus Aldridge.
Loathed: Ball control inside
Going through in inside is typically a good plan for Portland, and many NBA teams for that matter. Tonight the guys did a good job starting that trend early, but seemed to have the ball taken from them more than desired. There were only three turnovers in the first, so the numbers don’t necessarily reflect the lack of ball control inside, but it seemed like a big issue tonight. Hopefully it doesn’t become a trend.
Loved: Bench contributions
The bench scored 19 of Portland’s 27 points in the quarter. I wrote about the importance of contributions from the second unit the other night, and this quarter was another strong example of how much balance will matter this season.
Loathed: Allowing the Warrior’s backcourt to get hot
Limiting Golden State’s strong backcourt was a huge key to success tonight. In the second, Stephen Curry continued his methodical scoring as was expected. What lit the fire for the Warriors were the contributions of Brandon Rush. He shot 5-of-6 from the field, 3-of-3 from downtown. Those big shots kept the Trail Blazers defense honest and helped keep the Warriors mentally in the game.
Loved: Second chance points
I’m a sucker for second chance points. The Trail Blazers tallied eight in the quarter and dominated the Warriors 22-13 overall. There’s something gutsy and energy-injecting about a huge offensive board that results in points. Tonight, one of Marcus Camby’s giant rebounds converted into a dime for the big man when he dished out to Wesley Matthews who drained the shot from downtown. It was a nice punch in scoring and gave the team a lift.
Loathed: Steph Curry going bananas
Sixteen points in the quarter. After limiting Steph to just 12 points in the first half, Portland’s defense let up and he went crazy. He shot 6-of-9 from the field with four of his makes coming from long range. Limiting Monta Ellis to zero in the quarter didn’t even matter, Steph hit the shots and built the momentum for Golden State.
This is a broad term to use to describe what I liked about the fourth, but it’s exactly the right one. On the third night of a back-to-back-to-back set the Trail Blazers didn’t mail it in. Heading into the quarter down six after a monster third from the Warriors, Portland played through until the end even with a day off just around the corner. There were struggles at the end of the quarter, but nobody tossed in the towel. They fought and that’s a good sign.
Loathed: Late game shooting
I don’t know if it was shot selection, nerves or another factor, but in the final minutes of this one the Trail Blazers couldn’t buy a bucket. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, closing out tight games will define the success of this team. Thus far, tonight included, the trend isn’t on our side.
As much as a win at Golden State would have been great, I kind of expected this one to go the other way tonight. Oracle arena is a tough place for the Trail Blazers to play and hitting the bay area on the third night of a triple back was bound to be rough.
A great positive from this outting was Portland’s ability to stay mentally fit through the game. Three games in three nights is daunting. Only two teams, Oklahoma City and Chicago, have won all three games in a back-to-back-to-back and each of them ended the set on their home floors. The Trail Blazers could have just mailed this entire game in and chalked it up to the statistical probability that they weren’t going to come out with three wins. They didn’t do that. They stayed strong and fought all the way to the end. Sadly, they came up short.