The Portland Trail Blazers were handed a chance to do some real damage in the 2016 NBA playoffs in round one. Firstly, the LA Clippers’ best players fell out of the post-season as Blake Griffin and Chris Paul both saw their seasons end mid-series with ailments. Those injuries opened the door for Portland to advance to the second round, an opportunity they took advantage of. With Steph Curry out with a sprained knee, the Trail Blazers appeared to have at least a chance of advancing to the Western Conference Finals this year.
However, it doesn’t look like that is to be this season as the Steph Curry-less Golden State Warriors still managed to win both games at home against Portland to open the series. The most recent game was played on Tuesday night, one that saw Golden State post an 11-point victory thanks in no small part to an amazing fourth quarter where the Warriors outscored Portland by 22.
TNT analyst Charles Barkley described Portland’s fourth quarter play as analogous to “throwing gasoline on a fire” as Portland took bad shots that allowed Golden State to energize their comeback. Klay Thompson had a game-high 27 points as the Warriors remain hopeful that Curry will be back for Game 3.
However, should Curry remain sidelined, Portland does not appear to be the team to take out the Warriors. Golden State are perfectly capable of beating the Blazers with the lineup they featured in games one and two, even in upcoming games from Portland. If Golden State get a split from the next two games, as I think they will, then this series seems very unlikely to last longer than five games.
Aiding Curry’s chances of returning for game 3 is the fact that it is several days away. The series does not resume until Saturday, meaning there are three full day’s rest ahead for the guard still (8:30 pm ET; ABC). Game 4 of the series will go next Monday with a possible game 5 on May 11th.
But where Golden State have their ticket to the Western Conference Finals half booked, it seems there is still all to play for in the other series within that conference. San Antonio lost on Monday night to OKC in a game that has received a lot of attention for seemingly blind officiating at the crucial moments. Manu Ginobili was central to the drama as he received a push from an OKC player that was attempting to in-bounds the ball. However, Ginobili also broke the rules on the exchange as he appeared to break the plane of the sideline during the in-bounds play, something that is not allowed.
At the end of it, that series is 1-1 with OKC probably needing to win both upcoming games from home to have a good chance of advancing. That series resumes on Friday night with the two Eastern Conference series to feature on Wednesday (Atlanta @ Cleveland 8 pm ET) and Thursday nights (Miami @ Toronto 8 pm ET).