OAKLAND – Point guard Stephen Curry scored 36 points to guide the Golden State Warriors to a comfortable 116-94 win against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference finals at Oracle Arena on Tuesday.
The reigning champions Warriors were far superior to the opponents in the first game of the best-of-seven series, despite the absence of star forward Kevin Durant due to a strained right calf.
Curry stepped into the considerable void created by Durant’s injury, shooting 12-of-23 from the field, including 9-of-15 three-pointers, and was perfect from the free throw line with 3-3 in addition to grabbing six rebounds and making seven assists.
“Even when Kevin’s out there – he’s our safety valve in terms of we can end a possession with him – but we try to get to those looks and patterns as much as we can,” Curry said. “They put so much pressure on the defense.”
“When you create good shots, it’s fun for everyone,” he added.
Warriors guard Klay Thompson also supported Curry with 26 points, going 10-of-24 from the field, including 3-of-9 3-pointers and 3-3 from the free throw line.
Power forward Draymond Green again excelled in the paint and put up a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds along with five assists, two steals and three blocks.
“We did a really good job of sticking to that (defensive) game plan. You can play that same defense and they can really get it going so we got to make sure we locked in on the details moving forward,” Green said postgame.
Curry, a two-time Most Valuable Player award winner, dominated the duel with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, the leading scorers for the Trail Blazers.
Lillard and McCollum combined to shoot 11-of-31, confirming that they will need to produce some hitherto unseen heroics to be able to tackle the current champions, especially after the way they were stifled by the Warriors’ defense.
Lillard had a meager 19 points, six assists and four rebounds, while McCollum ended with 17 points, the same as reserve Rodney Hood.
“They were aggressive. We made some poor decisions but I thought they were really aggressive on the ball (...) We never really got on track offensively. We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well. We had our turnovers. We didn’t finish well when we had our offense rebounds. It was a tough night offensively,” Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.
Game 2 will be played on Thursday at Oracle Arena.