Game 1 Tipoff: 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Oracle Arena. TV: ABC. Radio: KGMZ 95.7 “The Game” in Oakland and San Francisco, KRTY 95.3 in San Jose, KUIC 95.3 in Solano County, KION 1460 and 101.1 in Salinas and Monterey.
REMAINING SERIES SCHEDULE
Game 2: Wednesday, April 19 at Oracle Arena, 7:30 p.m. TNT and NBC Sports Bay Area
Game 3: Saturday, April 22 at Moda Center, 7:30 p.m. ESPN and NBC Sports Bay Area
Game 4: Monday, April 24 at Moda Center, 7:30 p.m. TNT and NBC Sports Bay Area
Game 5: Wednesday, April 26 at Oracle Arena, Time and TV TBA
Game 6: Friday, April 28 at Moda Center, Time and TV TBA
Game 7: Sunday, April 30 at Oracle Arena, Time and TV TBA
Warriors: 67-15, No. 1 in the Western Conference and the overall top seed in the NBA playoffs.
Trail Blazers: 41-41, No. 8 in the Western Conference.
Golden State swept the season series 4-0. … On Nov. 1 at Portland, Stephen Curry had a 23-point third quarter as the Warriors rolled to a 127-104 victory. Golden State outscored the Blazers 41-20 in the third quarter to take a 100-73 lead into the fourth. … On Dec. 17 at Oracle Arena, Kevin Durant was ultra-efficient in the Warriors’ 135-90 rout. He scored 34 points on 11-for-13 shooting (4 for 5 on 3-pointers) with 11 rebounds in 31 minutes. … On Jan. 4 in Oakland, with Damian Lillard sitting out because of an ankle injury, the Warriors gave up a season-high 71 points to Portland in the first half before getting defensive in the second half of a 125-117 victory. Curry scored 35 points and Durant had 30. The Blazers’ CJ McCollum scored 35. … On Jan. 29 the Warriors escaped from Portland with a 113-111 victory. The Warriors, playing without Curry (stomach flu) appeared to be well on their way to victory as they rolled to a 51-30 lead midway through the second quarter. But the Trail Blazers outscored Golden State 20-2 to trail only 53-50 at halftime. The Warriors pushed the lead back to 12 late in the third quarter, only to see Portland rally again and take the game down to a final shot, a missed 3-pointer by Evan Turner. Durant scored 33 points and Klay Thompson had 27.
The Warriors and Trail Blazers have faced off in the playoffs once, in last year’s Western Conference semifinals. Golden State won the series 4-1 even though Curry missed the first three games because of an MCL sprain suffered in Game 4 of the first-round series against Houston. After Portland won Game 3 at home behind Lillard’s 40 points, Curry returned in Game 4. He came off the bench and scored 40 points, including an NBA-record 17 in overtime as Golden State won 132-125 to regain control of the series.
The Warriors and Trail Blazers enter the playoffs on a roll. Golden State won 15 of 16 to close the regular season and finished with the best record in the NBA for the third consecutive season. In March and April, Portland went 17-6 to pass Denver and claim the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The series will feature the very best backcourt combos in the league: Golden State’s All-Star duo of Curry and Thompson vs. Portland’s Lillard and McCollum, probably the two best guards not to make the All-Star team. Curry (25.3 points) and Thompson (22.3) were the two most prolific 3-point shooters in the NBA. Curry made a league-high 324, second all-time to last season’s astronomical total of 402. Thompson was next with 268. Lillard (27.0) and McCollum (23.0) both averaged career highs. Behind its explosive backcourt, the Warriors led the league in scoring (115.6 points per game) and were third in 3-point shooting (38.3 percent), The Blazers were eighth in scoring (107.9) and sixth in 3-point percentage (37.5 percent).
BACK IN A GROOVE
Durant has played three games since returning from a Grade 2 medial collateral ligament sprain and tibial bone bruise in his left knee suffered Feb. 28 at Washington and appears to have shaken off any rust after missing essentially 20 games — 19 plus the final 46:27 of the Washington contest. After playing solidly in his first two games against New Orleans and Utah, he cleared his final hurdle in the season finale against the Los Angeles Lakers when he hit five 3-pointers, his first since February. He had 29 points, eight rebounds a five assists against the Lakers, giving him three-game comeback averages of 20.3 points (shooting 53.5 percent), 9.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists.
One of the reasons for Portland’s blazing sprint to the playoffs was the acquisition of 7-foot center Jusuf Nurkic just before the All-Star break. The Trail Blazers traded free-agent-to-be Mason Plumlee to the Denver Nuggets for Nurkic, who was playing behind another young center, Nikola Jokic. Nurkic emerged as a potential star with the Blazers. In 20 games, he averaged 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.90 blocked shots in 29.2 minutes and Portland was 14-6 in those games. But Nurkic missed the final seven games because of a nondisplaced fracture to the fibula in his right leg. (The fibula is the smaller bone in the lower leg.) The Blazers are playing this one close to the vest, saying that whether Nurkic plays today will be a game-time decision. What’s semi-intriguing is that the Warriors have not faced the Blazers with Nurkic. Golden State’s 4-0 season sweep came before Nurkic became a Blazer. If he plays, he would give Portland an inside presence and a good perimeter game. Can play in the low post or high post and is a good passer.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
The Warriors’ bench has rounded into form right on time for the playoffs. Andre Iguodala has been absolutely fabulous, especially while Durant was out. After the All-Star break, Iguodala averaged 10.3 points and shot 58.5 percent. Shaun Livingston has emerged from a shooting slump and shot a career-high 54.7 percent. (Incidentally, he has shot 50 percent or better in all three seasons with the Warriors.) JaVale McGee and David West have been a stellar backup center tandem. McGee has hit double-figures in scoring in his past three games (16, 11 and 11) and averaged six rebounds and a block. He was 18 for 22 from the field in those games and set a Warriors record for field-goal percentage in a season at 65.2 percent (previous record 63.8 by Andris Biedrins). West still hits the midrange jumper and has become an astute passer, averaging a career-high 6.4 assists per 36 minutes.
OFF THE BLAZERS’ BENCH
Former Cal star Allen Crabbe missed the last three games of the regular season because of a sore left foot, but is expected to be ready today. He gives the Blazers yet another potent backcourt weapon. Crabbe averaged 10.7 points and shot 44.4 percent on 3-pointers, both career highs. In his last game, Crabbe scored 25 points against Minnesota and made eight 3-pointers. … The dangerous Al-Farouq Aminu who scored 17.2 points and was 16 of 29 (55.2 percent) on 3-pointers in last year’s series against the Warriors was rarely seen during the 2016-17 season. He was replaced by a tame version who averaged 8.7 points and shot a mere 32.9 percent from beyond the arc.