Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals had a familiar look for anyone who’s watched many Golden State Warriors home games during the Steph Curry era. The Warriors held the tough and determined Trail Blazers at a comfortable arm’s length for most of the night, and then just sort of cruised out of view by the final buzzer, capturing a dominant 116–94 victory.
This game would’ve looked especially familiar if you’d spent the last three NBA seasons participating in a sensory deprivation experiment, or in a coma, and missed the part where Kevin Durant came along and took over as Golden State’s offensive fulcrum. Opening the series without Durant—and, while we’re here, without DeMarcus Cousins—the Warriors slipped almost too easily into their old practice of whipping the ball to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson along the perimeter and letting them rain merciless hellfire on an opposing defense. Steph, in particular, was a monster:
The Blazers made the questionable choice to have Enes Kanter hang way back in the paint on Warriors pick-and-rolls featuring Curry as the ball-handler, which when Curry is feeling right usually spells death. Tonight Curry was feeling right, which meant there was plenty of this kind of thing:
Kanter is big and slow and not especially equipped to guard Curry out on the perimeter, but against a Warriors team missing one of the best offensive players on earth, it seems unnecessarily reckless and a little crazy to allow Curry to walk into those kinds of shots. Not surprisingly, Curry seemed to find his first real rhythm of these playoffs, and before long he was doing this kind of thing:
Once Steph reached the Fading Out Of Bounds For The Hell Of It stage of unconscious shooting, the Blazers were definitely dead. He knocked down nine threes in all, and finished with 36 points. Incidentally, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for 36 points, on 31 shots, and turned the ball over 10 times between them. That kind of output from Lillard and McCollum is not likely to produce a Blazers win, but those odds become even longer when Steph is handed a gas can and a book of matches and invited to burn your damn house down.