Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals felt familiar, as the Warriors dominated the Blazers as they’ve done twice in the past in the playoffs, and did so in the way that first made them the league’s best team back before the addition of Kevin Durant.
With Durant out, it was Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson that flew around on the perimeter, working tirelessly on and off the ball to create open looks for themselves, resulting in a three-point barrage that, ultimately, blew away Portland. Curry hit nine threes himself, many of which came courtesy of the Blazers’ much talked about drop coverage, in which Enes Kanter was regularly sitting back in the paint while the best shooter of all-time came around a screen to walk into a wide open three.
The Blazers were widely panned for their coverage in Game 1, and rightfully so, but it’s been awhile since we saw that version of the Warriors. Durant’s presence changes the way Golden State plays, as he’s more ball dominant and they are far more isolation heavy, with much less quick ball movement, when he’s on the floor. That’s not to say that isn’t effective, it just presents a very different challenge to the defense — one in which you have to figure out how to contain a 7-foot tall monster who might be the best scorer in league history.