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May 15, 2019, 1:44:00 PM

Curry leads charge as Warriors rout Blazers in game one

Reaching the Western Conference Finals is an achievement for many teams, but it all depends on whether the Golden State Warriors are in it or not before understanding the situation the team finds itself in.

Had the Houston Rockets made it this far, they would be performing at a higher level than the Portland Trail Blazers, which had an easier path to the Finals in retrospect.

Facing the Warriors is never an easy task, and Portland’s chances of reaching the NBA Championship Finals is already seeming like an uphill challenge that may well be a step too far.

Golden State made full use of its first-seed status to be at home for the start of all its rounds so far. This has proven to be an asset, and it was one of the tight margins that proved to be the undoing for the Rockets.

Steph Curry led the charge at Oracle Arena with 36 points, and Klay Thompson was next at 26, as they ran their way to an easy 116-94 victory. That they managed this with so many points to spare despite both Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins being absent suggests they have created a team spirit and a winning mentality among the entire bench that will be hard to stop.

The other issue for the Blazers was that they could not get a single player to score 20 points or more. While Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum stormed the last round over the Denver Nuggets with one of them always posting a big score, they were both stymied here.

Lillard was quick to criticise the way his team was set up, aghast that they were leaving so much space for Curry to run into. He called them “practise shots”, as Curry could line them up so easily, and they will know that they have to formulate an effective response for the next game before the tie goes beyond reach against a superlative Warriors team that seems to be hitting another level of form at exactly the right time.

While Curry was hitting nine three-pointers, the Warriors were showing that they can allow some breathing space for Durant to get back to being fit and healthy. They will need him for the NBA Championship Finals if they make it that far, with the Milwaukee Bucks looking equally as imperious

Although the scoreline seemed definitive, they were not quite so much in it until the last quarter, when the Warriors went on a rampant scoring spree. The 39-23 fourth-quarter score showed just how far they could sprint away at the end, and Portland will need to figure out a way to stop this in game two.

Words: Noah Hart

Images: PA