(The Sports Xchange) - If the Golden State Warriors miss Stephen Curry, they sure did not show it in their first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets. And here they go again in Round 2.
Klay Thompson bombed in a game-high 37 points and Draymond Green recorded his second career postseason triple-double as the Warriors ran off early from the Portland Trail Blazers en route to a 118-106 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference semi-finals on Sunday.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is scheduled for Tuesday in Oakland.
Even without Curry, who is sidelined due to a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee, the Warriors ran up 118 points on 47.3 percent shooting against a team less than 48 hours removed from having closed out a Round 1 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
“It helped us to have to play most of the Houston series without Steph,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
“We just got into a good groove (in the final two games against Houston), and that carried over to tonight. Our guys have an understanding of how we have to play without Steph.”
Thompson hit a 3-pointer just 17 seconds into the game, and the Warriors never looked back, building early 14-4 and 22-7 leads en route to their seventh consecutive win in Game 1 of a playoff series.
Hitting four 3-pointers, Thompson poured in 18 of his 37 points in the first quarter, during which he singlehandedly outscored the Trail Blazers 18-17.
Seven Warriors team mates quickly got into the scoring act as well, as Golden State outshot Portland 60 percent to 23.8 in the first quarter while building a 37-17 lead.
“I was in a great zone,” Thompson said of his fast start. “I got a couple of good looks. Anytime you get a 3-ball in the corner, it’s not a hard shot.”
Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard missed five of his six shots in the period, and high-scoring sidekick CJ McCollum shot 0-for-2.
Lillard eventually rebounded to score 30 points, but they were too little, too late.
“We’ve just got to understand that they are a good first-quarter team,” Lillard said of the Warriors. “We’ve got to be better from the start of the game. Once we fix that, we’ll have a chance.”
The Trail Blazers were never closer than nine after the first period and wound up losing Game 1 on the road for the second consecutive series.
In fact, Portland got blown out by 20 and 21 points in their first two games against the Clippers before rallying to win four straight, something Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts mentioned to his team afterward.
“We made adjustments, we played a little bit better and we got better as the series went along,” Stotts said of the response to the early adversity against the Clippers. “We need to do the same thing.”
It appears duplicating that feat against Golden State, even without Curry, will not be as easy.
After being outplayed in the second quarter, the Warriors started the second half the same way they began the first, getting five points from Green and a 3-pointer from Thompson in a 12-4 burst that turned a 14-point game at the intermission into a 77-55 contest.
This time, the Trail Blazers never seriously challenged, and in fact fell behind by as many as 26 before the end of the third quarter.
“We’re missing 30 points a game,” Warriors defensive anchor Andrew Bogut said of Curry’s absence.
“If we commit defensively to the game play and have a lot of effort defensively, it takes pressure off our offense and gives us a chance to win ballgames.”
Thompson’s career-best postseason scoring effort came on 14-for-28 shooting, including 7-for-14 from 3-point range.
He also had the primary coverage on Lillard, who shot just 8-for-26.
“There are not many guys in the league who could chase Damian Lillard around for 37 minutes and score 37 points, too,” the Warriors’ Kerr said. “(Thompson) was awesome.”
Green’s triple-double consisted of 23 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in 37 minutes. He also had a triple-double in championship-clinching Game 6 of last year’s NBA Finals.
Bogut (10 points, 12 rebounds) and Harrison Barnes (10 points, 12 rebounds) recorded double-doubles for the Warriors, and Shaun Livingston, starting in place of Curry, contributed 12 points and six assists to the win.
With all three members of their starting frontcourt recording at least 12 rebounds, the Warriors dominated the Trail Blazers on the boards to the tune of 55-40.
Lillard hit all 10 of his foul shots and four of his eight 3-point attempts to account for a majority of his 30 points.
More important, though, he and McCollum combined to miss 30 of their 43 shots.
“It’s huge for us,” Lillard responded when asked if he and McCollum needed to play better moving forward.
“We score a lot of points for the team. That gives us our best chance to win games, especially against a team that can fill it up like them, We’ve just got to be better.”
Reserves Allen Crabbe (15 points) and Ed Davis (11 points, seven rebounds) were productive for the Trail Blazers, helping keep the final score respectable on a day when Portland’s five starters combined to shoot 23-for-75.
Al-Farouq Aminu added 15 points and Moe Harkless 10 for the Trail Blazers, who shot 40.2 percent.
Editing by Peter Rutherford