If you were only to go off the final score in tonight's Game 2 win in Oakland for the home team, you'd think this was just another game for the best team in the Association, even without their MVP point guard. Which is why you really need to watch the games, even if you live on the East Coast and will spend the next day in your office circling the coffee machine, because, um, 1am and beyond.
For three quarters, the Blazers played their A+ game. They got out to a big early lead with the guys that you don't expect to hit big shots on the road, well, hitting big shots on the road. The Dubs closed behind the old-school height and mid-range game of Shawn Livingston, but couldn't get over the hump, because Portland kept countering with makes from the corners, controlling their turnover issues, and in the third, riding star PG and Oakland native Damian Lillard to a double digit lead. All night long, the Blazers kept getting friendly rolls on the rims, drawing fouls to stop runs, standing up when the crowd got loud, and in general, doing everything road teams do to steal a game. Especially with Stephen Curry out, taking advantage of the Warriors' sudden lack of margin was just essential.
Then the fourth quarter started. Warriors HC Steve Kerr, frustrated all night by the refs and his team's inability to maintain runs, went to reserve C Festus Ezeli, who D'd up and converted short makes off penetration. SG Klay Thompson finally got loose and got a few makes, and Lillard ran out of magic. With PF Draymond Green providing Rasheed Wallace levels of clowning and explosions -- honestly, the man told the opposing team to call a time out when the run finally got to a tied game -- the Dubs got the lead, then built it with a quickness at the close. Ball game, maybe the series, and just at killing speed. The signature moment was, to me, Green scoring off an inbounds and dunking like he was on a jungle gym. See it above.
I'm not sure what more the Blazers can do, other than be at home and relax, because no one expects them to win more than a game in this series. Maybe Curry comes back rusty, or Lillard can score against him without spending all of his energy before the close. Maybe CJ McCollum can turn things around in front of the home folks.
But this really felt like the Blazers' best game, and that what they really need -- Mason Plumlee to win his matchup against the Warrior bigs, or at least, not get destroyed -- isn't going to happen.
Because the Dubs are a lot more than Curry. Especially when Green is driving.