Published: Tue, April 18, 2017
Sport | By Fredrick Flores

Portland center Jusuf Nurkic out for Game 1 of playoffs


It's going to take more than one loss for the Blazers to think they can't shock the world and duplicate what the Warriors' "We Believe" team did 10 years ago.

The fourth quarter is where Golden State got its final burst of separation, when it fatally clamped down on Portland's offense. The Blazers provided problem to Golden State but it wasn't enough when Draymond Green made a decision to clamp down their offense.

"You're within a half an inch to a centimeter of being dunked on". The ten blocks also more than tripled Portland's total.

The underdog Blazers went toe-to-toe with the supposedly unbeatable Warriors for three quarters Sunday afternoon before stumbling in the fourth quarter and falling 121-109 to the Western Conference champions at Oracle Arena.

Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum, foreground, shoots in front of Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant during the first half of Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, April 16, 2017.

"I mean, he played a game that I'm not sure anybody else in the league is capable of, honestly", Kerr said. "Our players were fired up, and Draymond made a couple of just huge plays there". But in the end, we'll arrive at a simple truth: no one could single-handedly stop an opponent like Green. Well, it matters, but it just won't stop the Blazers from playing with vast confidence.

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But Green tipped in a Curry miss and Durant followed with three consecutive hoops, opening Golden State's biggest lead of the game, 113-99, with 3:36 to go.

With the fourth quarter looming, Warriors coach Steve Kerr formulated a plan he hoped would lift his team to victory. Who else can do what Draymond just did (Sunday)? Even reducing that line to 15/10/9/5, the only players to post that in the playoffs in the last 30+ years are all legendary centers much taller than Green: Ralph Sampson, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan. If you come across and get a swat, that's usually weak side, but at the rim it's mano-a-mano, man-against-man, who's going to win the battle. "Because I don't even talk trash, and he was saying so much out there that I had a whole lot to say tonight". "You get a real taste for what you're up against". I think it's necessary and I think their team, they depend on him to be that dog out there, to be that person.

With scoring like the Warriors had with their "Big Four" and for the score to be tied after three quarters, imagine what it will be like when, not if, the Warriors all get "hot" and on the same page during the NBA Playoffs. McCollum was on fire in the first half, scoring a franchise record 27 points on 11-15 shooting. Up to the beginning f the fourth quarter, they looked to be on autopilot, coughing up unnecessary turnovers on overzealous transition attempts, and Curry jacking up unnecessary hero treys, which is why, in classic Warriors fashion, the game never felt like it was out of their hands.

"But we all know each other off the floor as well".

Coach Terry Stotts needs to get creative in figuring out how to get his supporting cast good looks and, just as importantly, they are going to have to be willing to take them. "And that's where whoever the penetrator is".

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