Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

G3 - Warriors at Trail Blazers

Predictions | Conference Finals Odds | Playoff Results

Western Conference Finals – Game 3 (Warriors lead 2-0)
Golden State at Portland (ESPN, 9:05 p.m. ET)

The Warriors proved to everybody again on Thursday why they’re the defending champions as they defeated the Trail Blazers 114-11 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. Golden State rallied from a 15-point deficit (65-50) at halftime and they also overcame an eight-point gap with less than five minutes left in the game to defeat Portland.

Credit should be given to the visitors as the Trail Blazers came to play after losing 116-94 in the series opener on Tuesday. The Trail Blazers shot 18-of-39 (46%) from 3-point land and 17-of-18 from the free throw line but the club couldn’t connect down the stretch. Portland’s two-headed monster of Damian Lillard (23) and CJ McCollum (22) only combined for 45 points in the loss and both had opportunities for game-winners late. Unfortunately for the Blazers, McCollum missed his jumper and Lillard had his final attempt blocked by Golden State’s Andre Iguodala.

While the talented backcourt of Portland struggled in Game 2, head coach Terry Stotts got a big lift from his bench. The reserves scored 41 points and Seth Curry led the charge with 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting and that included four triples. Curry also had four steals and he finished plus-13 in 39 minutes, after having a minus-10 effort in Game 1 when he only had three points.

Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Seth’s older brother, continued his hot playoff run with 37 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the win. Klay Thompson added 24 points, 13 of them coming in the third quarter as Golden State outscored Portland 39-24 to even the score headed into the final 12 minutes.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr acknowledged that they stole the game from Portland and his counterpart Stotts agreed that it was a ‘lost opportunity’ on the road. Despite bogging down and settling for bad shots to aid Golden State’s Game 2 comeback with a brutal third quarter on the offensive end, the Blazers proved they won’t shrink down the stretch. NBA expert Tony Mejia believes Portland’s ability to trade baskets with the champs on the road in the closing minutes will help boost their confidence on Saturday night in a game that surprised him by not being a pick’em.

“The Trail Blazers have had much more success at home over the years against the Warriors than they’ve enjoyed at Oracle, which should make it easier for them to rebound from squandering a 17-point lead and failing to steal away homecourt advantage. With Seth Curry and Rodney Hood taking turns aggressively seeking out their shots to try and punish Golden State for all the extra attention it has bestowed upon Damian Lillard, it’s starting to look like the Blazers are making a concerted effort to play with pace and aggressively let the 3-pointers fly,” Mejia said.

“After coming through on surpassing its team total for Game 2 despite being held under 100 points in Game 1, getting back home should help Portland continue to produce confident offense in a must-win. Although the number is up there at 112, if the Blazers plan on making this a competitive series by taking advantage of Kevin Durant’s absence for at least a few more games, they’ll need to produce points.”

The Trail Blazers did cover as seven-point underdogs in Game 2 and that decision was never in doubt. As Mejia mentioned, they go from hunter to hunted with Portland opening as a short two-point favorite for Game 3 on Saturday from the Moda Center.

The nine-point swing (GSW -7 to +2) certainly could have you scratching your head but Golden State faced the same scenario in Game 3 of the conference semifinals. After laying between five and six points to the Rockets in Game 1 and 2 at home, the Warriors were listed as 3 ½-point underdogs in the first game at the Toyota Center. The Rockets won and covered that must-win spot, earning a 126-121 decision.

Can Portland follow suit and avoid the 3-0 hole?

Kevin Rogers of dived deeper into the head-to-head matchups between the pair. He said, “In the last 10 matchups between the Blazers and Warriors at the Moda Center dating back to May 2016, Portland was favored only one time. The Blazers topped the Warriors, 125-108 as 1 ½-point favorites on March 9, 2018 as Stephen Curry didn’t suit up for Golden State. Kevin Durant led all scorers that night with 40 points, while the combo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum posted a total of 58 points.”

He added, “The last time the Blazers trailed the Warriors, 2-0 in a playoff series returning to Portland was the 2017 first round as Portland blew a 13-point halftime lead in a 119-113 setback as 4 ½-point underdogs. Durant did not suit up in that game either, as Golden State went on to sweep Portland and capture its second title in three seasons.”

In this year’s playoffs, Portland has taken care of its business at home with a 5-1 record, while laying points in all six games and compiling a 3-3 ATS mark.

Golden State has gone 4-2 SU and 3-3 ATS on the road in this year’s playoffs, the two losses coming in its last round to Houston. They’ve been underdogs twice in this span, losing Game 3 to Houston before avenging that setback with a series-winning 118-113 victory in Game 6 over the Rockets. The Warriors were + 7 ½ in that win over Houston and that was just the ninth time this season that Kerr and company were receiving points. Overall, Golden State has gone 4-5 SU and 5-4 ATS as an underdog but it has won four of its last five in this role.

Durant’s absence hasn’t been a factor yet for the Warriors and you wonder when or if it will be. Many pundits believe KD is the best player in the NBA right now but the Warriors continue to silence the critics with victories. When Curry is in and Durant is out of the lineup, Golden State has gone 29-1 since he left OKC for California. The All-Star missed the first two games of this series and has been ruled ‘out’ for Game 3 and 4 in Portland. Including the 3-0 record from this year’s playoffs, the Warriors are now 6-1 this season without KD in the lineup.

Golden State opened as a -450 series favorite over Portland and that number has jumped to -1300 after the two wins in Oakland. Bettors believing in the Trail Blazers can grab odds as high as 8/1 to win four of the next five games against the Warriors.

Game 4 will take place on Monday from the Moda Center.

Betcha Didn’t Know

-- The ‘over’ is on an 11-2 run in the last 13 meetings between the pair from Portland.

-- The Trail Blazers have scored 123-plus points in three of their last four encounters against the Warriors.

-- Portland has watched the ‘over’ go 4-2 at home in the playoffs and it’s averaging 117.8 points per game. Golden State’s offense is averaging 120.1 PPG in six away games this postseason, helping the ‘over’ go 5-1.

-- The Blazers have a team total of 112 for Game 3 while the number on Golden State is 109 ½.

-- Road teams went 6-2 in Game 3 of the first round of this year’s playoffs. In the second round, home squads rallied for a 3-1 record. The ‘over’ has gone 8-4 in the dozen Game 3’s played this season.

-- The Blazers are 1-10 all-time against Golden State in the playoffs. The Warriors are 7-4 versus the number in those games while the ‘over’ is 8-3.

-- The Warriors are 31-4 in the postseason when Curry scores 30 or more points.

-- Golden State has gone 10-5 on Saturday this season, which includes a 1-1 mark in the playoffs.

-- Portland was 7-5 in Saturday games during the regular season and this will be the first game for the club on the sixth day of the week in this year’s postseason.

-- Golden State has watched the ‘under’ go 5-2 in seven games without Durant in the lineup.

-- A popular NBA playoff system that’s been reported through various sports betting mediums is in play again on Saturday. Put simply, wager on any home team in the first-half in Game 3 when trailing 2-0 in a series. This angle was once a gold mine, connecting in the 80% range but like any great system, all things eventually temper off. The oddsmakers have adjusted, probably too much, knowing that bettors are into the angle and that’s why Portland is laying more in the 1st half (-3) on Saturday than on the game line (-2). The concept makes sense as you expect the home team to fire out of the chute and leave it all on the line for the first 24 minutes. It doesn’t always work out and it’s gone 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS in this postseason. The Pacers got squeezed for the non-cover in the first round due to the inflated number.

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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