Warriors keep cruising, Heat and Raptors book clash
Klay Thompson and Draymond Green made sure the Golden State Warriors barely missed injured superstar Stephen Curry on Sunday in a 118-106 victory over Portland in the first game of their NBA Western Conference second-round playoff series.
Thompson scored 37 points and Green notched the first post-season triple-double of his career as the reigning champion Warriors leapt to a quick lead and never looked back on their home floor in Oakland, California.
Thompson drained a three-pointer 17 seconds into the contest and the Warriors rolled from there.
Thompson scored 18 of his 37 points in the first quarter — when Portland scored just 17 points total.
The Warriors led 37-17 after the first frame, and the Trail Blazers never got the gap under nine points.
Australian big man Andrew Bogut delivered a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds, as did Harrison Barnes. Shaun Livingston, starting in place of Curry, chipped in 12 points and six assists.
Curry watched from the sidelines, and indicated he’d like to be back on the floor by game three next Saturday.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr was making no promises about the return of Curry, who sprained a knee ligament in game four of the first-round series against Houston.
But his Warriors are managing just fine without the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player.
“It helped us to have to play most of the Houston series without Steph,” Kerr said. “We just got into a good groove, and that carried over to tonight. Our guys have an understanding of how we have to play without Steph.”
Green said the Warriors won’t expect Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and the rest of the Trail Blazers to struggle so much in every game.
But he’s confident the Warriors have what it takes to beat them, with or without Curry.
“Listen, we know they’re not going to have games like this every night,” Green added of a Blazers team whose five starters made just 23 of 75 attempts. “But if we can make them take tough shots … we think they’ll wear down throughout the course of the series.”
– Raptors hold off Pacers -While the Warriors were setting a tone for the second round, the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat finally wrapped up first-round series victories to set up an Eastern Conference semi-final showdown.
In Toronto, DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points and the Raptors held off the Indiana Pacers 89-84 to win their first-round series four games to three, while the Heat thumped the Charlotte Hornets 106-73 in game seven of their series.
Toronto’s first post-season series triumph since 2001 ended the longest active drought between playoff series wins.
It was also the Raptors’ first win in a seven-game series, rather than a five-game set.
“I think everybody wrote the Raptors off and gave us up for dead,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said of the reaction to the Raptors’ failure to close out the series in game six.
“But that locker room is full of fighters and scrappers.”
The Raptors needed that fight in the fourth quarter, when a 16-point lead dwindled to three with 2:36 to play.
The Pacers had the ball with 26.9 seconds remaining and the Raptors’ lead still at three, but Toronto got a defensive stop. DeRozan made two free throws to build the lead to five with 6.5 seconds remaining.
“We stunk it up in the fourth quarter,” admitted Casey, who thought the emotion of the game might have added to his players’ fatigue. “It wasn’t pretty, but our defense carried us down the stretch.”
Slovenian point guard Goran Dragic was the star in Miami, scoring a game-high 25 points.
Britain’s Luol Deng added 15, Dwyane Wade scored 12 points and Hassan Whiteside produced 10 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks for the Heat, who had trailed 3-2 in the series.
Hornets guard Kemba Walker meanwhile, was held to just nine points on three-of-16 shooting and had three turnovers.
“I’m not a prophet, but I knew we were winning this game,” Wade said. “This team has had opportunities all season to cave and every time when we have been in that situation we have somehow prevailed.”